The Toronto Argonauts have agreed to terms with quarterback James Franklin on a two-year deal, per sources.
The Argos acquired Franklin in a trade with Edmonton in December, giving them an exclusive negotiating window before the 26-year-old could’ve hit free agency in February. Toronto received a third-round pick in the 2018 CFL draft while sending Canadian offensive lineman Mason Woods the other way.
The move means Toronto has secured one of the league’s up-and-coming stars, a player who could easily step into the No. 1 quarterback spot should veteran Ricky Ray elect to retire. If Ray returns, Franklin gives the Argos quarterback depth and provides legitimate competition with the 38-year-old for the starting job.
Over three seasons in Edmonton, Franklin completed 116-of-176 passes (66 completion rate) for 1,449 yards and 12 touchdowns against one interception. He’s carried the ball 18 times for 145 yards and one touchdown.
Franklin caught the attention of Toronto’s football personnel men when he threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns in a convincing 41-17 Eskimos victory at BMO Field in 2016.
“I know that game left a lasting impression on people that had been with the Argos, [current assistant general manager] Spencer [Zimmerman] and [offensive coordinator] Marcus Brady. But he’s had other games like that I’ve been a part of where he’s done well. You know he’s got the potential to do that every week,” general manager Jim Popp said upon trading for Franklin.
“Everybody has flashes, but you have to look at his whole body of work. This is an outstanding college football player that has spent three years in the CFL and he was in a very good organization with coaching to match, he’s an outstanding young man and he’s got a lot of key elements that you look for.”
Franklin was originally added to the Eskimos negotiation list while playing at the University of Missouri in the SEC. He was off for a little while when attending Detriot Lions training camp in 2014, but after sparse use Edmonton readded him suspecting he could be let go and indeed that was the case. Then Franklin signed with Edmonton in April 2015.