The Toronto Argonauts; officially the Toronto Argonaut Football Club are a professional Canadian football team competing in the East Division of the Canadian Football League CFL. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the team was founded in 1873, and is the oldest existing professional sports team in North America still using its original name. The team's origins date back to a modified version of rugby football that emerged in North America in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The Argonauts played their home games at Rogers Centre from 1989 until 2016 when the team moved to BMO Field, the fifth stadium site to host the team. The Argonauts have won the Grey Cup a record 16 times and have appeared in the final 22 times. Most recently they defeated the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 at home in the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. The Argonauts hold the best winning percentage in the championship game 72.7% and have the longest active winning streak in games in which they have appeared, at five. The Argonauts have faced every current western CFL team at least once in the Grey Cup, while their most celebrated divisional rivalry has been with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The team was owned by the Argonaut Rowing Club for its first 83 years, and has been owned by a series of business interests since 1956. The Argonauts were a fixture on the Toronto sports scene for decades, with attendance peaking in the 1970s. In May 2015 it was announced that a consortium of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's Larry Tanenbaum via the Kilmer Group and Bell Canada would acquire the team. The sale included a scheduled move to MLSE run BMO Field for the 2016 season, which has long been proposed given attendance under-utilization at Rogers Centre and plans to install natural grass at the domed stadium, rendering it unfit for football. Given the length of franchise history, dozens of players, coaches, and management have been honored in some form over the years. The team recognizes a select group of players with retired numbers: early greats Joe Krol and Dick Shatto, stalwart offensive lineman Danny Nykoluk, and Michael 'Pinball' Clemons who has been the most recent face of the team.
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed Canadian DB Arjen Colquhoun. Colquhoun, 27, joins Toronto after three seasons in Edmonton and a 2019 campaign that saw the defensive back record 16 defensive tackles, two special teams tackles and one interception in 10 games. The Windsor, Ontario native was drafted by the...
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed Canadian DB Arjen Colquhoun.
Colquhoun, 27, joins Toronto after three seasons in Edmonton and a 2019 campaign that saw the defensive back record 16 defensive tackles, two special teams tackles and one interception in 10 games. The Windsor, Ontario native was drafted by the Esks in the second round of the 2017 CFL Draft and in 24 career games has tallied 48 defensive tackles, four special teams tackles and two interceptions. The 6’0, 188-pound Canadian played four years at Michigan State University (2012-2015) and over the course of 26 career games racked up 57 total tackles, one sack, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have acquired K/P Boris Bede from Montreal in exchange for K Tyler Crapigna. Bede, 30, has played his entire five-year, 80-game career in Montreal and in 2019 the native of Toulon, France converted on 31-of-35 field goals (88.6%), while leading the league in kickoff yards (5,772)...
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have acquired K/P Boris Bede from Montreal in exchange for K Tyler Crapigna.
Bede, 30, has played his entire five-year, 80-game career in Montreal and in 2019 the native of Toulon, France converted on 31-of-35 field goals (88.6%), while leading the league in kickoff yards (5,772) and kickoff average (69.5), while finishing third in the CFL in punt average for punters who had at least 100 punts (44.6). The 6’4 kicker is the CFL’s all-time leader in kickoff average at 69.3 yards, more than 3 yards longer than number two on the list. The Tiffin University and Laval University alum was a CFL East All-Star in 2015 after nailing 36-of-40 field goals (90.0%). For his career, Bede has made 141-of-171 field goals for 82.5% and has kicked at least a 52-yard field goal in each of his five seasons while accumulating a punt average of 44.2 on 510 punts.
The Toronto Argonauts granted Argonauts.ca writer Mike Hogan full access into the team’s War Room for the first day of free agency. The only stipulation was that he not use the names of players that did not sign with the Argos. Here is his exclusive behind the scenes look at perhaps the most fascinating day...
The Toronto Argonauts granted Argonauts.ca writer Mike Hogan full access into the team’s War Room for the first day of free agency. The only stipulation was that he not use the names of players that did not sign with the Argos. Here is his exclusive behind the scenes look at perhaps the most fascinating day on the CFL calendar.
It began like most mornings in the Argos football operations office. As usual, Director of Canadian Scouting Vince Magri and Coordinator of Logistics Alex Russell were at their desks at 7:30 watching player video, unrelated to what was about to happen in the next few hours.
That preparation had been completed days and weeks ago.
Unlike most days at the offices, located on the second floor of the Coca-Cola Coliseum on the CNE grounds, there was a sense of anticipation, of nervousness, of uncertainty, as there were only a handful of hours left before the beginning of CFL free agency.
The Argos had a desire to sign the top two players on the CFL.ca ranking of best available free agents. The second player on that list, quarterback Matt Nichols, had already agreed to terms with the team, but the player whose name appeared at the top, defensive end Willie Jefferson, had agreed to return to Winnipeg at roughly 4:00 Monday afternoon.
That led to some obvious disappointment, but that feeling didn’t last long. It couldn’t, there was too much work to do to dwell on something that was beyond their control.
Things were also busy in the offices across the parking lot at BMO Field. More video was being reviewed as Ryan Dinwiddie and his offensive staff were gathered in the larger of two coaches’ offices. It’s there where each coach has his own workspace, with a large rectangular desk situated in the middle of the room.
A few yards down the hall, Defensive Coordinator Glen Young and his staff were also going through film in the defensive coaches’ room. Both groups were discussing what would end up in the Argos playbooks this season.
General Manager Michael Clemons and Vice-President of Player Personnel John Murphy were having a discussion outside the room before moving back with the group. Magri, Russell and Player Relations Advisor Matt Black entered the room, as did a reporter from Argonauts.ca.
Murphy would set up shop in Dinwiddie’s office, adjacent to the larger room.
As the clock approached noon, word of players re-signing with their teams trickled in. None were major surprises, nor would they have a major effect on what the Argos planned to do.
At 11:48 Clemons and Magri went over the details of a contract offer that would officially be made to receiver Juwan Brescasin when the clock struck noon.
This year’s exercise would be completely different than a year ago; not because of the people in the front office, but because the free agency process had dramatically changed, and a giant albatross had left the building.
In 2019 the Argos made a humungous offer to quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, one that made them wait for three hours before eventually being informed the QB had opted to remain in Calgary. That scenario would not likely have happened this year, even if the Argos had presented a large offer to one player.
Which they did last weekend.
The courtship of Willie Jefferson became a glowing example of why the week-long lead-up to free agency worked. Had that process not been allowed, Jefferson may have been hit with substantial offers from three teams at noon and asked to make his decision immediately, causing two teams to wait for a potentially significant amount of time before receiving bad news.
This year’s timeline allowed Jefferson to visit Toronto and Hamilton and select a team before the free-agency window opened. In this example, the Argos, Ticats and Blue Bombers all benefitted because they had time to make their sales pitch, in the Ontario teams’ cases, they could fly the defensive end in for a visit and a tour, then get an answer before noon Tuesday. It allowed all three teams to hit the reset button Monday night and revise their game plans before the frenzy began.
As noon hit, coaches Dinwiddie, Jarious Jackson, Stephen McAdoo, Markus Howell and Fred Reid continued to scheme the offense, not unaware of the discussions about personnel, both with the Argos and around the league.
Matt Nichols also entered the room, mostly to sit in with the offensive coaches, but also curious to find out about who was about to join him in Double Blue.
Just after noon the league sent out an email, updating the free agent list to include any offers made during the previous week that were accepted. That meant five additional names would come off the board.
The Argo choreography was pristine because of the immaculate preparation. After talking to agents and players throughout the preceding week, Clemons, Murphy, Magri and Russell had prepared contract offers that were ready to go out as soon as the team wanted to send them.
The first offer sent was to Brescasin. The Mississauga native had visited the Argos offices during the previous week. He hadn’t played football at home since grade 10, having moved to a prep school in Indiana for two years before playing his college ball at Northern Illinois, then in the CFL in Calgary for four seasons. Coming back to friends and family in the GTA appealed to him.
The deal was accepted relatively quickly, and the Argos had landed their first fish on their first cast. It would be a good omen for the rest of the day.
Murphy sat at Dinwiddie’s desk; his hands apparently welded to his cell phone. For the most part, communication with agents was done via text message. He would speak to agents as well, though likely far less than one would think. It was almost all done through texting.
For the better part of the next hour Murphy didn’t move; his head down, thumbs blazing. He rarely spoke, he just texted, and texted, and texted, and texted.
Murphy was not only texting agents, but was also texting Magri, telling him when to send out the next contract offer or offers. Magri would let Murphy know when the contracts came back.
When a deal was agreed to there were no high fives, no fist pumps, no acknowledgment at all. In fact, several times a deal was done without any verbal acknowledgment at all – just texts between the pair.
A few minutes after noon Magri decided to move into the smaller office, not only because it was closer to the action, but because it was quieter – a rare occurrence for a room when Murphy is in it. A man of Irish heritage, Murphy didn’t need to kiss the Blarney Stone to receive the gift of gab. It’s a trait that would come in handy on such a long day, as his sense of humour was definitely an asset.
“Murph” sat at Dinwiddie’s desk at the end of a rectangular room, a bookshelf behind him containing several books about, or written by various NFL coaches. There was a couch along the wall in front of Murphy’s desk to the right, then a chair at the other end of the room facing the desk. That became Clemons’ perch for the day.
Magri moved to the couch in that room at about 12:30, joining Clemons and this reporter, who was sitting in a chair to the left of the desk.
Two other members of the Argos team were sitting a few steps down the hall, having set up shop in the BMO Club. Manager of Football Media Chris Balenovich was preparing news releases for anyone the Argos were in discussion with, while Social Content Coordinator Adam Krueger, the evil genius behind the Argos social media accounts, was at his side, making sure any new player was announced in style with a Tweet featuring a cool jersey change graphic, a process that took roughly an hour to complete.
Slowly, the Argos Canadian content was improving. At around 12:30 offensive linemen Phillip Blake and Dariusz Bladek were signed. This put a smile on the face of offensive line coach Stephen McAdoo, who popped into the smaller office to congratulate Clemons and Murphy on signing two players “Coach Mac” worked with the previous couple of years in Saskatchewan.
The signing of Blake becomes another reunion of sorts. The Etobicoke native was the left tackle back in the day on an Etobicoke Eagles team which featured Magri at centre.
Things were starting to take shape. Linebacker and special teams ace Nick Shortill and defensive end Craig Roh would agree to terms, which made Defensive Backs Coach Ike Charlton and Linebackers and Special Teams Assistant Coach Kevin Eiben happy enough to pop into the office to congratulate and thank the men who made the signings possible.
The day progressed and several reports, which would eventually prove to be accurate, began to surface – though they were premature at the time.
As an aside, later in the day as the frequency of signings slowed down a bit, there was a great deal of amusement in the ‘War Room’ as media members announced deals just two or three minutes after a contract was filed. It was great work by Justin Dunk and TSN’s insiders, but the speed of the leaks, obviously coming from the agents, was always good for a laugh in the room.
The deal with Deveris Daniels was finalized. The main terms were agreed upon fairly early in the process, but there were structural aspects of the contract that needed to be worked out at the agent’s end before the deal was etched in stone. With so many players trying to sign deals, sorting out the short strokes on a contract would take some time and would understandably be pushed to a side burner.
While it’s a stressful day for teams, the day is obviously hectic on the agent’s end as well. (Note to other writers, please think about doing a behind-the-scenes story from an agent’s office on free-agency day, it would be fascinating).
Coach Dinwiddie came in and spoke to Clemons and Murphy about which still-available free agents interested him. Some contract offers were either drawn up, or reworked and sent out.
When asked by Argonauts.ca if he had been a major contributor in recruiting Daniels in the week leading up to free agency, he said the pair had spoken a bit, but his wife Abby had been working on them, having gotten to know the couple well during their three seasons together in Calgary.
As Dinwiddie was acting the role of visitor in his own office, the Argos had guests of their own. Free agent defensive tackle Drake Nevis and his wife Reese were in town and had arrived at BMO Field to head out for dinner with Clemons. That would take the G.M. out of the building for the rest of the evening, though he was in contact with Murphy throughout.
The Pinball magic obviously worked as Nevis put pen to paper at 2:00 Wednesday and officially became an Argo.
Defensive tackle Fabion Foote agreed to terms. Defensive end Alex Bazzie agreed to terms. The plan was taking shape.
Foote’s addition also has a cool local connection. He’s a product of Thistletown Collegiate, whose football program was started thanks to the Argos “Level The Playing Field” initiative. He joins Jamal Campbell from C.W. Jeffreys as Argos who may not have played high-school football had it not been for the program.
Long after the sun had set, and as the coaches eventually called it an evening, the midnight oil was still burning in an office now inhabited by Murphy, Magri, Russell, Balenovich, Krueger and this reporter.
Murphy was now speaking to agents more than he was texting them. When not talking to agents he was contacting general managers and had multiple trade discussions on the go, none of which were completed before everyone would eventually call it a night.
By this time, Murphy’s theory of not being overly aggressive, but letting the cards play themselves was paying off. Some talented players were still looking for a place to play and from the team’s perspective the contract demands were became more attractive as the day progressed.
At around 9:00 another player agreed to terms, though at the time of this story’s release no contract had been signed. Forty-five minutes later linebacker/defensive back Chris Ackie agreed to head back to Ontario, then at 10:30 special teamer Denzel Radford agreed to terms. Those two would sign the next day.
One other target was still very much on the radar and several contract offers were sent to his agent in an attempt to lure that player from his current team. It was a dance that lasted several hours and was still without an answer at 11:30 when Murphy decided to call it a day – but what a day it was.
Eight players were under contract. One more, Nevis, was expected to be added in the immediate future and signed the next day. Two players agreed to terms but hadn’t signed, while another player was still deciding which contract offer to accept. That offer would eventually be taken off the table the next afternoon and the club would move on.
There were also multiple trade discussions, one of which with Hamilton would be completed at about 8:00 Wednesday morning, as the Argos acquired linebacker Jordan Moore.
As people packed up their bags and prepared to exit the building there were some encouraging words exchanged, but there was no real celebration; it was just another day in the process of turning the team around from back-to-back 4-14 seasons. There was more work to do, starting at 7:30 the next morning, the same as always.
The Toronto Argonauts were a different team than they were eleven-and-a-half hours earlier. It was a team that suddenly had options aplenty as to where to start Canadians.
To paraphrase Michael Clemons, you must build the foundation before you add the chandelier. The overall talent base was upgraded on Tuesday, strengthening the team’s structure, while still adding some attractive pieces to the structure’s décor.
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed Canadian DB Denzel Radford. Radford, 25, has played his whole three-year career in Saskatchewan, after a trade sent him to the prairies from Montreal; the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2017 CFL Draft. The 6’1, 198-pound DB played six...
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed Canadian DB Denzel Radford.
Radford, 25, has played his whole three-year career in Saskatchewan, after a trade sent him to the prairies from Montreal; the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2017 CFL Draft. The 6’1, 198-pound DB played six games for the ‘Riders last season and recorded three defensive tackles during a campaign in which he missed games due to injuries. The Calgary native was a special teams demon in his rookie year making 24 stops on teams in 18 games, tied for third most in the CFL. Radford played his college football at the University of Calgary.
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed Canadian LB Chris Ackie and American DL Drake Nevis. Ackie, 28, played 10 games for Montreal in 2019 and recorded 38 defensive tackles and two special teams tackles. A five-year CFL veteran, the Cambridge, Ontario native has played all but three of his 65...
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed Canadian LB Chris Ackie and American DL Drake Nevis.
Ackie, 28, played 10 games for Montreal in 2019 and recorded 38 defensive tackles and two special teams tackles. A five-year CFL veteran, the Cambridge, Ontario native has played all but three of his 65 career games with Montreal after a trade sent Ackie to Ottawa late in the 2018 season. That season, the 6’2, 218-pound LB was a tackling machine, racking up 88 takedowns (5th best in the league), one sack, two interceptions, one forced fumble and a defensive touchdown in 16 games. The 2015 first-round pick out of Wilfrid Laurier University has tallied 154 defensive tackles, 24 special teams tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and one touchdown for his career.
Nevis, 30, comes to Toronto after a three-year stint in Winnipeg (2017-2019) that saw the defensive lineman rack up 72 defensive tackles and six sacks in 50 games while helping the Bombers win the 2019 Grey Cup. The 6’1, 195-pound defensive tackle came to the CFL in 2015 after being signed by Hamilton but missed the season due to injury. The next season saw the Louisiana native play 14 games for the Ticats and record 29 defensive tackles and a career-high five sacks in 2016. Nevis was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and played 14 games over two seasons for the AFC South team. During 2013, the LSU alum played 11 games for Dallas and one game for Jacksonville, running his total NFL games played to 26 with 50 tackles and one sack. Nevis won a BCS National Championship with LSU in 2007.
The Toronto Argonauts also released Canadian DB Abu Conteh today.
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have acquired American LB Jordan Moore and a negotiation list player in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Toronto will be sending two negotiation list players back to Hamilton. Moore, 26, played five games for the Ticats last season, recording five defensive tackles and four special...
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have acquired American LB Jordan Moore and a negotiation list player in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Toronto will be sending two negotiation list players back to Hamilton.
Moore, 26, played five games for the Ticats last season, recording five defensive tackles and four special teams tackles. In 2018, the 6’3, 225-pound LB was on the practice squad of the Denver Broncos as a safety after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017.
The Atlanta native played 13 games at safety in 2016 at the University of Texas at San Antonio, tallying 49 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. Before his time at UTSA, Moore played three seasons at Texas Abilene Christian University as a receiver/running back, registering 87 rush yards on 20 carries and one touchdown with 50 receiving yards on seven receptions.
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