Quick Hits on the Toronto Argonauts to Kick Off 2019

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2019 is here. For fans of the Canadian Football League, that means that it’s about six months until the CFL regular season kicks off in Hamilton on June 13 against Saskatchewan. For fans of the Toronto Argonauts, the Argos very disappointing 2018 season leaves fans hoping for a rebound season in 2019. Now that the new year is here, let’s recap where the Toronto Argonauts sit as free agency comes up.

Who the Argonauts have Brought Back

The Argonauts have brought back a few players already, preventing them from hitting free agency when it opens up. Two Canadians have been re-signed in RB/WR/SB Anthony Coombs, who can be electric when healthy, and Linden Gaydosh. Coombs has been hit with the injury bug the last few seasons, but he can be a difference maker when he’s healthy.

Depthwise, the Argonauts have brought back two Canadian defensive linemen in Hassan Barry and John Biewald. Barry, 22, and Biewald, 24, are both projects, but they add to Canadian depth, which is always good in the CFL. There is never enough Canadian depth and perhaps one of these two can develop into something. The Argonauts also have added Canadians Alexandre Gagnon (defensive lineman) and extended Nakas Onyeka. Onyeka has been a force on special teams the last few seasons for the Argonauts.

Other moves the Argonauts made to bring back some Canadian depth include extending long snapper Jake Reinhart and defensive back Matt Webster. The Argonauts have taken care of a chunk of their Canadian depth.

Finally, two international moves. The Argonauts have signed international receiver Kamathi Holsey from the University of Buffalo to add to wide receiver depth, an area the Argos lacked in 2018. The second move happened on January 8 with the re-signing of defensive back Qudarius Ford. Ford was injured the majority of 2018 but was great in 2017. He was especially good in the Grey Cup with eight tackles in the win.

A New (Old) Head Coach

Jim Popp was quick to hire a head coach into the off-season and he decided to go down a familiar path and hire Corey Chamblin as the Argonauts head coach for 2019 and beyond. Chamblin was instrumental to the Argonauts winning the 2017 Grey Cup as Chamblin’s defence was among the best in the CFL in 2017.

Once the Argonauts defence came together and was healthy in 2017, the Argonauts absolutely took off and had a great second half of the season. In 2018, we saw how poor the Argos defence was under Mike Archer and it was clear to Argo fans that the loss of Corey Chamblin was bigger than any player loss in the off-season.

Chamblin knows the CFL and will be in charge of the defence in 2019, an improvement from a season ago. It’s undecided who will be the offensive coordinator and even who the quarterback will be, but Chamblin is back and the hire was well received among the fanbase and the players.

Pending Free Agents

With free agency coming up, Jim Popp and Corey Chamblin are likely hard at work trying to re-sign players before free agency opens up as well as who to target in free agency. Here are some of the bigger name free agents from the 2018 roster:

  • Marcus Ball
  • Ryan Bomben
  • Jamal Campbell
  • William Campbell
  • Duron Carter
  • Alden Darby
  • Jermaine Gabriel
  • Tyler Holmes
  • Abdul Kanneh
  • Jeff Knox Jr.
  • Terrance Plummer
  • Ricky Ray
  • Justin Tuggle
  • Cameron Walker
  • Bear Woods
  • Dylan Wynn
  • Ronnie Yell

There are quite a few key contributors to the 2017 Grey Cup team as well as some veterans who would be good to have back, especially on the offensive line. It will be interesting to see who ends up getting extended before free agency and who will be brought in to shore up both sides of the ball.

No Decision at Quarterback

There’s been no decision at quarterback yet for the Toronto Argonauts and nor should there be. Both James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are under contract for 2019 and neither was able to take the reins at quarterback in 2018. Use training camp and the new eyes of Corey Chamblin to decide who will run the Argos offence.

Of course, there is still Ricky Ray. It was reported within the last few days that Ray was still mulling over whether he wants to return to play in 2019 after a devastating injury in game two of 2018, or if he will retire. Many think it’s time to move on, but there are still some who want Ray to return and win one more Grey Cup. This will be a talking point and likely something fans will hear about soon.

The Last Word

There’s been a lot of minor moves, a new head coach and the 2019 schedule for Toronto Argonauts fans to get excited about for the season that lies ahead. The Argonauts have the dreaded Week 1 bye and open up the season at home in Week 2 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Argos also are back in the 1 p.m. EST time slot for the Labour Day Classic and have a game out on the east coast against Montreal.

Fans of the Toronto Argonauts should be optimistic the direction this team is poised to take under Corey Chamblin. Up next is free agency and that should be a ton of fun for the Toronto Argonauts.

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