TORONTO – This time of year can be almost as interesting as the regular season for a true football fan. This is when we really see how the “brain trust” is thinking (Barker, Milanovich, Jones, O’Shea and to some degree Brady). Seeing who is being released and who their priorities are for signing tells a lot about the kind of team they are planning to field this year.
The release of Ron Flemons was a bit of a surprise, but it tells us that as salaries grow and foot speed diminishes, it’s time to bring in fresh blood. Ditto Ken Yon Rambo, Etienne Boulay and Noel Prefontaine. The “trust” is committed to developing young players. The release of Jarious Jackson further emphasizes the point, as they have made a statement about their confidence in QB apprentices Trevor Harris and Zach Collaros. Look for at least one of them to get some significant playing time this year. Notice that they haven’t signed any new QB prospects.
But let’s look at the positions of the players they have signed this off season. Since the Grey Cup, the only players on offence to be brought in are two running backs and four wide receivers. No QBs, no linemen. The re-signing of Joe Eppele put in place a key piece of the offensive puzzle. In my opinion, of all the potential free agents, he was the most important. With the return to Canada last year of Joel Reinders, the Argos now have two young 6’8” “twin towers” to anchor their O-line for years to come. The fact that incumbent Cedric Gagne-Marcoux is still unsigned is an indication that his days as a starter may be over, and he is perhaps even expendable.
But the defence is where the holes are. They knew they were going to lose Armstead and Kuale, and they still may lose Ricky Foley. So they have signed three new defensive linemen, and two linebackers. With Ahmad Caroll retiring, they probably did not want to lose Evan McCollough. They have already signed three new DB’s to help fill that void.
So what does all this tell us about what the “trust” is thinking? The offence is set. They are still looking for one game changer at receiver, and a back-up to Kackert at running back. That’s it.
The defence however will have a lot of new faces. The emergence of so many good young players this year (Ball, Carter, Horne, Inman, Kackert, Washington) has given them the confidence to hand the torch to bright athletic young recruits. They are committed to developing fresh blood with an eye to staying on top for a long time.
Now with the draft looming soon, and try-out camps yet to come, we will learn even more about what the “brain trust” is thinking. This time of year is fun.