The Toronto Argonauts are coming into the 2018 CFL season as the defending Grey Cup Champions and they definitely have a shot at representing the East Division in the big game in Edmonton in 2018. The Argos brought back many key cogs like James Wilder Jr. after a big contract dispute, S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards, Bear Woods, and Cassius Vaughn. They added many big pieces in free agency such as Taylor Reed, T.J. Heath, and Ronnie Yell.
Re-signings Solidify Argonauts Depth Chart
Despite all the big additions and re-signings, none were bigger than the return of Ricky Ray, who many thought may retire on top. The Argos with Ray back in the fold instantly makes them favourites to potentially repeat as Grey Cup champs if Ray remains healthy. While Ray is unquestionably the number one on the depth chart, James Franklin, who was acquired from the Edmonton Eskimos, came to the Argos and signed a two-year deal to take over for Ray after 2018. However, the interesting development from Argos training camp is that Franklin may not be the QB2 on the depth chart.
An Unlikely Battle for QB2
According to Dave Naylor, head coach Marc Trestman hasn’t committed to who will backup Ray as McLeod Bethel-Thompson has impressed the Argos brass a ton and his play in the first pre-season game lived up to the hype. The development that Franklin may not be QB2 is very interesting and surprising, especially given his potential to be a star in the CFL.
Both Franklin and Bethel-Thompson saw lots of action in Hamilton. While all the hype of that pre-season game was surrounding Johnny Manziel’s debut with the Tiger-Cats, Argos fans were closely watching how Franklin and Bethel-Thompson would perform for who could potentially be Ray’s successor.
Bethel-Thompson and Franklin both performed quite well in the first pre-season game. Bethel-Thompson completed 81.8% of his passes (9/11) for two touchdowns and 122 yards. Franklin went 80.0% (8/10) with no touchdowns, 73 yards and an interception. Franklin did run for a touchdown in his debut.
Franklin has shown in his brief CFL appearances that he can ball. He torched the Argos for 335 yards and four touchdowns back in 2016. In his career, he’s only thrown one interception and 12 touchdowns. He can also run quite well to keep plays alive which is huge for his development as a CFL quarterback. Franklin still is only 26 years old and many think if he continues to perform, an NFL opportunity could become available.
Bethel-Thompson is 29 years old and has bounced around with many NFL teams including three different stops with the San Francisco 49ers. He was on the Argos roster in 2017 and was actually the backup quarterback on the depth chart for the Grey Cup game.
Moving forward with just under two weeks until the Argonauts first regular season game at the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the battle for QB2 is still very unsettled and will remain a very big positional battle the last week of the CFL pre-season. Franklin is projected by many to be the next star CFL quarterback which is why it’s very surprising to see the charge and hype Marc Trestman is discussing surrounding Bethel-Thompson. One would think that the Argonauts want to keep James Franklin happy and groom him under Ricky Ray before taking over for Ray in 2019.
Regardless of whoever comes out on top of QB2, the battle will be one to watch for the Argos moving forward as with Ray’s age and injury risk, it’s likely one of the two will see regular season action for the Argos in 2018. Argos fans should be thrilled that this battle is happening as there will be two very solid options to step in for Ray if need be during the 2018 season and after Ray retires.
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