CFL Pass

Argos turn the page by unveiling new receiving cast

Derel Walker, S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards each posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in what turned out to be their final year in Double Blue.

In the case of Walker, considered among the elite pass catchers in the CFL, his first season in Toronto would prove to his last after he signed one of the most lucrative free-agent deals not involving a quarterback.

No player, as it turned out, who didn’t line up under centre earned as much as Walker after he agreed to a package that paid him in the range of $270,000.

Walker remains unsigned, a victim of a cap-crunched league where virtually every team has allocated its finances.

One of these days, Walker will eventually land with a team.

B.C., which brought quarterback Mike Reilly back into the Lions’ den, entertained the thought of reuniting Walker with Reilly hoping to reignite the lethal tandem developed during their time in Edmonton.

Winnipeg, the CFL’s reigning champion, also kicked tires much like the Blue Bombers attempted to sign Walker last off-season until the Argos handsomely rewarded him.

The offensive system Toronto ran didn’t exactly showcase Walker.

No team in the nine-team CFL featured three 1,000-yard receivers, but then again, no team outside of Ottawa struggled to score touchdowns more than the Argos.

Green and Edwards, who reached the milestone marker for the first time in his career in Toronto’s final game in Hamilton, joined the XFL.

At least they’re playing football.

As for Walker, there have been no takers and none seems likely in the near future.

Given the amount doled out by the Argos, it’s safe to say how Walker and his representation expected a similar windfall.

The longer the off-season plays out with no deal in place, agents need to save face.

The longer the off-season plays out with no deal, Walker will have to finally realize the amount he received last season was inflated, even for a guy of his ability.

A three-time Grey Cup champion and a certain future hall of famer, Green is viewed as a third option.

Like Walker, Green likely felt he deserved a similar deal he negotiated with the Argos.

The one common thread linking all three receivers is Jim Popp, whom the Argos fired once their post-season fate was determined in the wake of a brutal loss in Vancouver.

It was Popp, after all, who signed the threesome.

Not surprisingly, the Argos’ new management team led by John Murphy, the team’s vice president of player personnel, has been very prudent in how money was distributed during free agency.

Murphy has done a very good job in assembling a roster by moving forward from the ashes of a four-win season, Toronto’s second four-win campaign in as many years.

On paper, there’s plenty of Canadian depth and a solid receiving unit for new head coach Ryan Dinwiddie to work with as he implements his system.

The obvious deficiencies when dissecting the roster can be found at rush end, where there’s no stud piece, in the backfield, where there’s no incumbent, and at centre, where a void was created following the free-agent departure of Sean McEwen to Calgary.

There’s no question Edwards is a serviceable receiver, but he has probably succumbed to the trap of overstating his worth given his 1,000-yard production.

In truth, the Argos trailed too often by large amounts and had to throw the football because they had no other choice.

They had no run game and, in fact, have not featured a 100-yard rusher in two years.

No one is quite certain if players in the XFL will be eligible for CFL rosters once camps open in May or whether players will even want to play in Canada.

Of the three, Walker is the most talented, a legitimate deep threat whose presence spreads the field.

Hamilton’s Brandon Banks is the CFL’s most explosive player, but Banks does most of his damage following a catch, a fearless receiver who earned MOP honours.

There’s no better boundary wideout than Walker.

When you’re the best at anything, one would think suitors would be lining up.

Money is running thin in the CFL and one day Walker needs to realize he isn’t going to make what he earned last year, which, if you look at it objectively, was far too much.


The CFLPA’s new president, Solomon Elimimian, released a statement through the union Tuesday that tackles a subject many believe is incredibly restrictive in luring Canadian-born players to the CFL who have NFL experience.

It became a hot button item when the Argos and receiver T.J. Jones agreed to a deal worth roughly $200,000.

The problem involves the language in the new CBA, which basically restricts players such as Jones to a rookie three-year deal at the league minimum.

The CFLPA has submitted a proposal and is awaiting word from the CFL.

“The language in the Collective Agreement is clear, however in the spirit of good faith, the player representatives and executive discussed this issue at length and developed a proposal which was communicated to the League (Monday),” Elimimian said in a statement. “This proposal was met with optimism by Toronto’s management. Nevertheless we have yet to hear back from the CFL. Our board respects our players rights while also acknowledging the DESIRE to bring the top talents to our game.

“We await a response from the CFL to the proposal and will not have any further comments at this time.”

The Argos drafted North Bay native Ryan Hunter ninth overall in the 2018 CFL draft.

The offensive lineman, who can line up anywhere along the line of scrimmage, earned a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs.

As the rule currently stands, if Hunter somehow plays for the Argos at some point he’ll have to accept a rookie deal.


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