Argos Make Shock Move, Drop QB Drew Willy

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TORONTO, ON - June 8: Drew Willy #2 of the Toronto Argonauts gets sacked by Gabriel Knapton #55 of the Montreal Alouettes during a CFL pre-season game at BMO field on June 8, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Toronto defeated Montreal 24-20. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)

The Toronto Argonauts have made their final round of roster cuts after finishing the preseason 2-0 for the first time since 2004. Head coach Marc Trestman said after Friday’s win against Hamilton that he thought that trimming the roster would be difficult after seeing so many positives in two weeks. And so the axe fell on 18 players, most notably veteran quarterback Drew Willy.

Surprise to Everyone

This should come as a surprise to pretty much everyone, given how Drew Willy was the fallback option in the event of another Ricky Ray injury. He was also the presumed star of the future given the high profile trade that brought him to the Double Blue. Winnipeg got a promising young defender in TJ Heath, as well as the first overall pick in last month’s draft, which netted them defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie.

Trestman announced as soon as he arrived in Toronto that Ricky Ray would be his number one passer. It was not a non-confidence vote against Willy, but an early showing of confidence in a future Hall-of-Famer maintaining his high quality play. Willy was, as far as things stood, still part of the long term plan. Clearly that is no longer that case.

Final Nail in Barker’s Coffin

In some ways, this is Trestman and general manager Jim Popp parting ways with a man who may well have been the final nail in former general manager Jim Barker’s coffin, not as a person, or a player, but as a business transaction. The trade to acquire Willy from the Blue Bombers created many problems behind closed doors, resulting in a massive roster purge with many star receivers being released, and overall creating one of the most fractious locker rooms in the league. It’s not surprising that the team finished in 9th place.

It is clear now that Mathews will be second in line to Ray. He had a strong showing in preseason against his former team in Hamilton, throwing for over 100 yards in limited action. Whether he can maintain that in the regular season is another matter. But there’s no doubt now that this is Ray’s team. Where Drew Willy goes from here, is anyone’s guess. Personally, I predict a possible Roughriders reunion.

In four games last season, Willy completed 77 of 113 passes for 681 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. In preseason, he completed eight of 12 passes for 58 yards.

It is worth noting that those 58 passing yards placed him 5th among non-Ricky Rays, with Jeff Mathews leading the way, followed by Cody Fajardo and rookie signings Dakota Prukop and Mcleod Bethel-Thompson.

Argos Roster Finalized

Here is the full list of Argos roster cuts from Saturday:

  • INT WR Ralph Abernathy IV (Tennessee)
  • INT DB Marcus Alford (Arizona State)
  • INT DB Aaron Berry (Pittsburgh)
  • INT DB Cariel Brooks (Adams State)
  • INT DL Theiren Cockran (Minnesota)
  • INT WR Ed Eagan (Northwestern State)
  • INT DB Qudarius Ford (Alabama State)
  • NAT LS Joseph Iatzko (Windsor)
  • INT DB Tramain Jacobs (Texas A&M)
  • INT OL Ryan Mack (Memphis)
  • INT LB Kimario McFadden (South Carolina State)
  • INT WR Joseph Morgan (Walsh)
  • INT DB Davonte Neal (Arizona)
  • INT LB Terrell Richardson (East Carolina)
  • INT DB Larry Scott (Oregon State)
  • INT WR Cole Watson (Newberry)
  • INT QB Drew Willy (Buffalo)

It was also announced that NAT DL Matthew Carson (Calgary) has been placed on the team’s suspended list.

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