“I was blindsided by it; I didn’t see it coming.”
Neither did anyone else.
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Jake Ceresna is the newest Toronto Argonaut. The Argos and Edmonton Elks shocked the CFL landscape with a stunning trade involving two talented players who were exceptionally popular with their now former team’s fanbase. The versatile defensive lineman heads east, with receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. heading to Northern Alberta.
The trade was finally completed late Sunday night, with time being a factor in the deal.
“I didn’t find out until the morning,” Ceresna told Argonauts.ca. “I got a call from my agent saying I’d been traded to Toronto. “You’re a little nervous about something new and something unfamiliar. Once that shock wore off, I then felt the excitement, a new energy for this upcoming season. Overall, it’s going to be a great thing and I’m excited to play for Toronto.”
And the Argos are excited to have him.
The 29-year-old is in his prime. In each of the last two seasons he was named the Elks Most Outstanding Defensive Player and was a CFL All-Star in 2022. In the last couple of seasons, he’s recorded a total of 22 sacks, tying for second in the league last year with a dozen.
His value is extremely high not only because of his immense talent, but also because of his versatility. The Cortland State product has been equally effective lining up at tackle or at end, giving opposing offensive coordinators nightmares.
The Argos have three people atop their player personnel department: general manager Michael Clemons, Vince Magri and John Murphy. The trio worked in conjunction with head coach Ryan Dinwiddie to discuss things as the day progressed and different trade scenarios arose.
Murphy was the person making the phone calls on behalf of the group, because it was a conversation that he had with Edmonton’s head coach and general manager Chris Jones when the two were attending an HBCU all-star game at the end of December in Mobile, Alabama that got the ball rolling.
One of the topics the two kicked around was how teams were trying to restructure certain players’ contracts with bonuses coming up. Ceresna was one of the players discussed and his name came to the forefront again on Sunday afternoon.
With free agency looming and uncertainty in their defensive line group, the Argos wanted to make sure they had another dominant force alongside Folarin Orimolade. They suddenly had the chance to acquire one of the league’s most dominant pass rushers and talks moved from a cordial conversation to a serious discussion.
With Ceresna under contract, the Argos also knew what dollar figure they were dealing with, as opposed to the uncertainty of what other players demands could escalate to when free agency opens on February 13.
It was a case of having to give up a talented player who was universally liked in the organization, but the opportunity to acquire Ceresna – along with a player on Edmonton’s negotiation list that the Argos coveted – was too good to pass up.
Ceresna will miss Edmonton. He had entrenched himself in the community but is equally excited about the new opportunity in Double Blue.
“I had some deep ties in Edmonton, “he said. “It was definitely a second home for me for a long time, but change can be good. People are afraid of change, change is something people tend to avoid, but overall, the one guarantee in life is change. I’m excited for it. I’m ready for this new chapter.”
With a new team, a new city, and a recent engagement, he has the perfect attitude to embrace the changes in his life.
Diehard CFL fans are excited to see what Ceresna brings to the Argo defence, but casual fans may not know a lot about their newest player. Argonauts.ca asked the defensive lineman to give a scouting report on himself.
“Big, fast, high motor. I try to stay relentless and keep getting after the quarterback, keep trying to stop the run, and with my energy and motor just make plays when I can.”
The trade reunites the New Fairfield, Connecticut native with fellow d-lineman Thomas Costigan. The two were teammates for two seasons in Edmonton, are both from the Constitution State, and they work out together in the off-season.
They’ll now line up next to each other at times at BMO Field, the only grass surface in the CFL. That’s something Ceresna is also looking forward to.
“Playing on grass is definitely easier on the body, so it’s good that I’ll get to play half of my games now on the grass. It will definitely take a little adjusting because the footing is a little different. I’ve had some good games in the past in Toronto, so I’m not too worried about it.”
The Argos are aware of those good games at BMO Field and are hoping there are many more to come.