Argonauts looking to make a splash with NFL name for open GM spot

The Toronto Argonauts are looking for an out-of-the-box, across-the-border hire for their next general manager.

The focus for president and CEO Michael Copeland, who fired general manager Jim Barker on Jan. 24 after five seasons, is on U.S.-based candidates – many with little or no CFL experience. Copeland has not spoken to obvious choices like former Montreal general manager Jim Popp or current Ticats GM Eric Tillman, nor has he approached up-and-comers like Ottawa’s Brock Sunderland, Saskatchewan’s John Murphy, B.C.’s Geroy Simon or Hamilton’s Shawn Burke.

So who is Copeland considering? Here are four names among those the Argos are looking at:

1. Tom Clements, who played 12 seasons at quarterback with four CFL teams and has spent the last 11 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, the last two as assistant head coach. His contract expired on Jan. 26 when head coach Mike McCarthy announced he would “move on to other interests.”

Clements, however, wants to be both head coach and general manager and has no player personnel experience to speak of, certainly none in the CFL.

2. Chris Rosetti, who is currently a pro personnel assistant with the Miami Dolphins. A Toronto native who played quarterback at the University of Guelph, Rosetti started in the Argos organization as an unpaid intern and rose to the position of Director of Player Personnel before departing for the Dolphins in 2014.

A Canadian-born kid at the helm of his hometown team has some obvious appeal for the attention-starved Argos but word is Rosetti – who is just 26 – is happy in Miami. Given his career trajectory in the NFL, coming back to the CFL may not make sense for him at this point.

3. Jerry Angelo. Another name well known in NFL circles, Angelo served as the general manager of the Chicago Bears from 2001 to 2011 and as the director of player personnel of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1987 to 2000. He began his career as a coach and served as the linebackers coach for the Calgary Stampeders in 1981, his sole CFL experience.

Angelo was fired by the Bears in January 2012 and has been out of football since. He did make news in 2014 after a USA Today story quoted him as saying he and other NFL executives avoiding disciplining “hundreds and hundreds” of players for domestic violence during his 30 years in the NFL. Angelo said later that his quotes were taken out of context while the paper stood by the story.

4. David Turner. While the first three names have varying degrees of NFL cachet, Turner is something of an under-the-radar candidate who was most recently the director or player personnel for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena League from 2011 to 2015 and was the assistant director of pro personnel for the Oakland Raiders from 2005 to 2010. His LinkedIn bio currently lists him as the director of sales for the Arizona Builder’s Exchange.

In addition to a general manager, the Argonauts are going to need a head coach after Scott Milanovich resigned to join the Jacksonville Jaguars last month. Sources say Copeland wants the new GM to have the final say in that hiring and as such allowed the CFL’s window for talking to coaches on other staffs to close at the end of January without conducting any interviews.

With the exception of Rosetti, none of the above candidates have much – or any – experience in the nuances of CFL player personnel, with its emphasis on Canadian talent and challenging salary cap management structure.

And while there’s no guarantee that the successful candidate will come from this list, it seems clear that Copeland is willing to take a risk with what will undoubtedly be the most important hire of his shaky tenure at the helm of the Argos.

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