Argos make sweeping changes, release four players

Toronto has made sweeping changes to its receiving corps on Monday releasing receivers Kevin Elliott, Tori Gurley and Phil Bates per sources.

Earlier Monday Vidal Hazelton was let go.

Gurley was third on the team with 36 catches for 509 yards and five touchdowns, Elliott was sixth on the team with 23 catches for 294 yards and two touchdowns while Hazelton had 23 catches for 361 yards and three touchdowns.

The moves come as the Argonauts desperately try and save their season. The team has lost three straight and seven of their last eight after starting the season 4-2. The team traded a first round pick for quarterback Drew Willy and both general manager Jim Barker and head coach Scott Milanovich are looking to shake things up.

“Long time coming. Talented players but difficult guys in the locker room. Barker and Scott won’t put up with that,” said a CFL source.

Elliott, Gurley and Hazelton were thought to be the foundation of the team’s receiving corps for years to come after enjoying strong 2015 seasons. Hazelton had 70 catches for over 800 yards and was the East Division’s Most Outstanding Rookie while Gurley tied for the league lead in touchdowns with 10.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
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Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (870 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

37 Comments on Argos make sweeping changes, release four players

  1. Phil Nicholson // October 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm //

    Phew…. pretty strong message. They also announced that Wiley will start the last four games. Not sure what the coach sees in him over a much more athletic and just a good if not better passer in LeFevour. Is he injured? Seems odd to bring him in from a cut in the NFL if he doesn’t crack the top two QBs.

  2. The Tiger-Cats must jump and pounce to secure receivers(one or more of them )ex. Gurley,Hazelton for their roster.This is a major break for the Ticats and a answer to Austin’s prayers.Godspeed.

    • Arland Bruce was said to be trouble in Toronto,wnen they released him but in Hamilton he got along well and made over a thousand yards, one year for the Cats.

  3. I know that team chemistry and team moral are important in the locker room, and the “firings” are a semi wake-up call to the rest of the team to get their sh*t together, but the Argos just threw their season away today…… bahaha. Unless they find some stellar replacements, they will be out of playoff contention. Only having Shaw and Spencer won’t be enough.

  4. If these guys are trouble in the locker room KA won’t go near them.

  5. Seems like they were OK with the team until they realized there are few fans and little hope to win. Austin needs help with the O-Line and secondary. I see little reason for more receivers.

    • Our ticat receivers,Chiles a roughrider released for poor production,Owens aging with a chronic foot injury,and a mix of others with no experience.You must be able to see where the puck will be.

  6. With a horrible season & constant QB changes eho can blaim them for being difficult in the change room and on the field. They want the win bad and with it not happening they are getting upset about it. Releasing them and keeping a crap QB was a seriously bad move on the Argos part and I think it will come to bite them in the ass later.

    • Yes, but there are none available(O LINE )These powerful and young receivers are there for the picking.Our receivers are aging and invisible lately.

      • Chopper11 // October 4, 2016 at 10:01 am //

        Tasker Tolliver Watt Collins Banks are aging? And Fantuz playing great? No thanks on any of those Argo cast offs…

  7. Willy bouncing balls into the turf on Sunday was the problem not Elliot & Gurley. Coombs dropped an easy first down pass too

    • Dan Bombers // October 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm //

      Yeah get used to that Willy has no confidence and is playing scared he’s not the same since his injury

    • Marc Lebut // October 4, 2016 at 11:15 am //

      Got that, Dan. Willy became erratic right after Hebert took that desserved RTP penalty.

  8. The big news has nothing to do with the WR’s. It is all about the decision to sit Ricky Ray. The Argos are making an all in bet on Drew Wily. They see something there that I just don’t see.

    I agree that the Cats might want to take a look – Tolliver has been reading his own press clippings … more impressed with himself than he should be … two big drops in the game against Calgary. But if these guys are head cases … take a pass.

    • Yes,Ricky Ray is a class act and the best player in the CFL.

    • Marc Lebut // October 4, 2016 at 3:32 pm //

      Yeah, and they will get their Willy deception too. Willy is a good backup, but not a good starter. The only thing I can see is they believe he’ll improve working with Brady and Milanovitch. Won’t work unless they have an elite O line, which they don’t.

      With Willy or LeFevour at QB, they should run more. But this pass happy O doesn’t have that much of running schemes. They can let go as meny receivers they want, it’s the whole O that has to be reset. Can’t be done in 4 games anyway, so it’s 2017 already for them.

  9. Austin is keenly interested in Hazelton; he was a big receiver for Zack at college while Gurley is a powerful receiver much needed on our team.Biggest story of the year, a veritable gold rush for the Cats and grey cup here we come.

  10. A big surprise but when look at their stats they are not terribly productive.I guess for Milanovich and Barker they simply weren’t worth the aggravation.

  11. Billinburlington // October 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm //

    Imo our receivers are not the biggest concern: no need to risk bringing in bad attitudes. Instead we would get much more bang for our buck by focusing on our pass protection… Zack and Masoli need to be able to spend more time looking for receivers and less time running for their lives or looking skyward from the ground. And how about beefing up the defence!

  12. OK…been a CFL fan for most of 50 years.

    Seems like a “salary dump” to me.

    Willy was embarrassed by the Alouettes, and the Argos have run out of options.

    As far as “trouble in the lockerroom etc” well sure…haven’t heard that before…what do you expect them to say, “They’re great guys…but we need to dump some salary cause we just got ‘pantsed’ by the Alouettes and our season is OVER.”?

    One down…two to go.

    Go Als Go!!!

  13. I watched Sundays game and agree with all of these cuts. Spencer is their best receiver.
    Questionable moves by Jim Barker continue to haunt the Argos as he got rid of Terrell Sinkfield, Trevor Harris, Chad Owens for nothing. Picked up Ti-Cat rejects Justin Hickman and Bryan Hall. Gave up a lot for Willey.
    Now Milanovich has to play Drew Willey because of his big contract despite Dan Lefevour outplaying him.
    What a Gong Show in Argoland.

  14. Ticats on a two week break… Ticats offence struggling… Argos release some big, talented receivers… call me crazy but I don’t see a problem with Austin bringing in one or two of these WRs for a look…

    Just maybe the problem with pass protection is that receivers are not open forcing our QB to hold onto the ball too long… (yeah I know lack of running game is an issue too)

    Of course no guarantee these players want to go from one train wreck to another… they may prefer a team that’s trending upward and not on the downward arc of the Ticats…

    Just saying…

    Cheers… Snake

  15. Rumour is that Toronto tried to trade Vidal Hazelton but no teams were interested. These guys may be talented players, but let’s allow this years stats to speak for themselves. Toronto is third last in total offensive points with 322, only MTL and SK are worse, and Toronto is worst in turnovers with 39.

    Kenny Stafford is currently this teams best receiver with 773 total yards and 4 TD’s, he also ranks 17th in the league. Tori Gurley is 28th, with 509 total yards and 5 TD’s. Safe to say both aren’t contributing much. However, worst of all, is Toronto’s run game. They are second last in rushing TD’s with 6 (tied with OTT) but second in rushing yards! This is their worst stat, since their run game doesn’t contribute at all to their point totals. This team is also third best in ball possession, only CGY and EDM are better.

    So, basically this team has the ball a lot, and they run it a lot, but they rarely turn that into points. These guys may have been cancer in the locker room, but this team has all kinds of problems.

    • Marc Lebut // October 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm //

      Kenny Stafford? Maybe Kenny Shaw? 😉

      We know in Montréal why the Alouettes are behind almost everyone in O stats: O coaching gong show since 2013.

      You’re right when you say the Argos have many problems. One of them seems to be Barker himself who tries to build his team poaching other CFL teams through FA and trades. Well, you don’t get a Ricky Ray every dynasty, and when you have the right next guy in your lineup, you don’t let him go. Barker should have extended Harris instead of re-signing Ray. My 2 cents goes on Harris didn’t want to talk about extending and was going to FA market anyway. And Owens, and Sinkfield, and…

      The other problem is their O system doesn’t evolve that much. It’s still a pass happy WCO that needs elite QB and O line to perform at top level. Opposite Ds figured it out since 2 seasons and Bradynovitch have to bring it further or they will be known as one trick ponies.

      Finally, did they really find a replacement for Owens as KR? I think they’re still looking for it. Like it or not, when you have long fields to cross, your O stats aren’t so bad, except in the W column. You get a good time of possession stat, but lack of finition hautns you in the end.

      • For the Argos the addition of Elliot,Hazelton and Gurley made Chad Owens, their aging hero expendable.They were deemed superior to Sinkfield because he was immature at the time, and self-obsessed.Austin, with great patience and skill turned the kid into a gamer.Sinkfield, has yet to return the favour,by returning to his creator Austin.

  16. Well, that’s shocking! Although, to be fair, it’s not like the CFL had never seen this type of “housekeeping” in the past. Sometimes toxic personalities (see James Curry and Tank Landry) have a way of wearing out their welcome, especially when the team is tanking. As an Argo fan, I think this season is pretty much done. Here’s to 2017!

  17. blackandgold // October 4, 2016 at 10:34 am //

    Better is Better, if a motivated Ex Argo can add a little spark to a Ticat receiving core lets do it! That group is not healthy and Collins has not shown much IMO

  18. I would take Gurley and Hazleton over Collins and Chiles in a heartbeat. As another 3DN article says, the Ti-Cats just don’t have many “big-play” makers…

  19. Marc Lebut // October 4, 2016 at 11:29 am //

    Isn’t it strange that since Chris Jones left, Barker struggles in bringing good players and keeping those he has. To me, when he announced he re-signed Ray last fall, it was clear that Harris didn’t want to talk about re-signing and was to hit free agency. Barker sould have then looked for another QB, as Ray was banged out and not getting younger. Then, he let Owens go, build his D line through FA, failed building a strong O line, etc.

    Looks to me that Barker isn’t such a good GM after all.

  20. Andrew Kramer // October 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm //

    Well some changes had to be made so hopefully this is a start!

  21. I think Barker and Milanovich are sniffing glue. I love to see the Argos in turmoil but comeon. trading a good DB for Drew Willy? Letting Trevor Harris walk and now this.
    Glad I’m not an Argo Fan.

  22. Although I can’t defend the Argo’s decisions at quarterback, it’s interesting to know that the NFL just recently had an issue with a Dallas Cowboys player named Dez Bryant. A story came out the other day that reported this player, a 7 year veteran and strong reputation as a top receiver in the league and arguably the team’s best receiver was causing the team personnel and management issues with his level of commitment in-between games. He would rarely appear for team meetings and almost never see the medical staff for examinations. The FS1 analysts were saying that, even though he is a great player, this current season his stats aren’t nearly as impressive and these issues are becoming a concern since his one defense of putting up big numbers in games no longer applies. They also said, if these problems are presented, you need to ensure that they are addressed and corrected between the first two years the player is with the team, and if left alone, it’s very hard to reverse.

    This situation can almost be applied perfectly to the Argo’s release of these four receivers. Last season, Gurley and Elliott were putting up big numbers and helping their team remain a contender so their issues off the field were being overlooked and tolerated. However, since this season they are struggling to put up points and helping the team win games, management is letting them and other know of the standard they are enforcing. Like it or not, this decision was the right move and to ensure their young future players don’t pick up bad habits and learn the wrong way.

  23. I get having to make moves if players aren’t buying in and all, and/or becoming problems, but all 3 ? Bates is no loss for the Argonauts IMO.

    Shaw – Spencer – Coombs – Jones – Noel ain’t going to scare no one. Neither is Drew Willy at QB for that matter. What’s going on in Toronto ?

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