February 9, 2023

Hogan: Argos Acquire An Outstanding Linebacker

B.C. Lions LB Jordan Williams warms before CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Western Final in Winnipeg on Sunday, November 13, 2022. (CFL PHOTO - JASON HALSTEAD)

With the majority of those who follow the CFL focused on upcoming free agency, the news came as a major surprise; the Toronto Argonauts had acquired one of the league’s best young players from the B.C. Lions.

Jordan Williams will now wear Double Blue.

“I knew (the trade) was going to happen,” he told Argonauts.ca. “Me and my agent had talked about it behind the scenes. We felt like we love B.C., we love the opportunity that they gave me when they drafted me in 2020, but there’s also a business side of things.”

Williams heads east in a deal that sees the Argos send the ninth-overall pick in this year’s draft to the Lions. It was shocking to virtually everyone that he was available, but the 28-year-old says there was a reason why he wanted to leave the west coast and be closer to his home in the D.C. area.

“What I do in the off-season is options trading,” he explained. “It makes a good amount of money in the off-season to help supplement the CFL pay. You have to wake up early for pre-planning, charts and pre-market. You really, to have a good day, have to wake up around 4:30 (Pacific time) and that’s not sustainable through the season. Either way, trading slows down during the season, but I’ll be able to optimize my time in the east.”

The East Carolina product made a significant impact in his first two seasons in the league. The first-overall pick in the 2020 draft was named the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2021, recording 92 defensive tackles to break the CFL record for most tackles by a rookie Canadian, previously held by Mike O’Shea.

He followed that up this year, leading the Leos with 96 more tackles, adding another 10 in a pair of playoff games. His talent, his status as a National player, and his ability to play either the middle or weakside linebacker spot makes him an extremely valuable commodity.

For CFL fans in the east, staying up to watch games from Vancouver can be a bit of a chore, with a 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. kickoff. For those who don’t know much about him, Argonauts.ca asked him to become a scout and describe Jordan Williams the player.

“I’m a tenacious guy on the field; see ball, get ball, hit ball, which you see with three forced fumbles last year. I’m also a leader on and off the field. I help make everybody around me better, I help people get lined up, and I also set up meetings before and after practice for our team to get better if I see things that need fixed. That leadership element will be brought to Toronto.”

It will make for an interesting process for Williams as he establishes himself as a leader in a locker room filled with veterans who are coming off a Grey Cup championship. So how does the new guy see himself doing that?

“You’re going to have to read the room,” he said. “Once you read the room you get to know the personalities, you know where you fit. If you have to pull back a little to make guys more comfortable then you do so because it’s only going to help the team, but if there’s a dying need for a leader on the team I can be that guy.”

The Argos were not the only team from the east looking to acquire the linebacker, but made the offer that B.C. felt the best about.

It becomes a homecoming of sorts for Williams. He was born and raised in the United States, but his mother was born in Toronto, then raised in Trinidad. He still has family members here.

“My parents both migrated from the islands to the east coast. My mother was born in Toronto and she has a brother that lives right down the street, so I feel like that will be more like a place that’s home and it’s going to be home to me now.”

It’s a perfect fit; he wants to be in Toronto and the Argos are thrilled to have him here. He also has a message for the fans.

“I’m happy and I’m excited to be a part of Toronto, in The 6ix, and I can’t wait to be there. The ultimate goal is to get a championship or bust.”

Sounds like that leadership role is already being established.