The Toronto Argonauts recently tried to extend the contract of quarterback James Franklin.
According to sources, the Argos wanted to add another year onto Franklin’s existing deal which runs through the 2019 season, but Toronto was rebuffed. General manager Jim Popp knows having a strong starting quarterback candidate can help in the free agent recruiting process. And should Toronto go after one of the high-end, established starting quarterbacks – Bo Levi Mitchell or Trevor Harris – having Franklin under contract through 2020 would boost his potential trade value.
Toronto acquired Franklin in December 2017 in a trade with the Edmonton Eskimos viewing the six-foot-two, 225-pound pivot as the Argos potential quarterback of the future. Over three seasons in Edmonton, Franklin completed 66 per cent of his passes for 1,449 yards and 12 touchdowns against one interception. Toronto liked Franklin’s skill set and became enamoured with him in Week 20 of the season 2016 when he connected on 18-of-23 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-17 Eskimos victory.
That was his last CFL start before taking over for Ricky Ray in Week 4 last season. Franklin went 1-3 as the No. 1 pivot before being replaced by McLeod Bethel-Thompson and by the time he was reinstalled in Week 18, the Argos had all but quit on Marc Trestman. Franklin finished the season with a 2-6 win-loss record, throwing for 2,034 yards, eight touchdowns against nine interceptions while rushing 78 times for 365 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Franklin struggled under Trestman’s controlling management style but new Argos head coach Corey Chamblin encourages players to be who they are while buying into the team mentality. That change in philosophy from Chamblin at the top could benefit Franklin and the entire Toronto squad.
Franklin made $250,000 in “hard money” last season with playtime and other incentives pushing his earnings around the $300,000 mark. The deal pays Franklin even more for the upcoming year: $198,500 base salary, $2,500 training, 5,000 travel, $20,000 housing, and a $120,000 roster bonus that was due Feb. 1,.That equals $346,000 hard money with another $54,000 available in playtime bonuses that could take the deal to the $400,000.
With free agency looming, that deal could give the Argos some flexibility to improve the roster in other areas or be a trade-friendly contract if Franklin is dealt to another team. Around the league, the 27-year-old Franklin is still viewed as a young, ultra-talented quarterback with the potential to be a franchise guy.