Making sense of Toronto’s (almost) brand new roster

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Toronto Argonauts have made a shocking number of veteran additions since free agency opened on Tuesday, signing thirteen new faces.

The club’s off-season makeover started when twelve players were released four days before the market opened. Five more veterans have signed elsewhere since, including nationals Jermaine Gabriel, Cleyon Laing, and Ronnie Pfeffer.

Curious to see how these changes could look by the start of the season, I made a projection of how the Argos may field their 24 starters in 2020.

Players marked with an asterisk have joined the team since the end of the 2019 season.

QB Matt Nichols (A)*

RB A.J. Ouellette (A)

WR DaVaris Daniels (A)*
SB Chandler Worthy (A)
SB Natey Adjei (N)*
SB Juwan Brescacin (N)*
WR T.J. Jones (N)*

LT Randy Richards (A)
LG Philip Blake (N)*
C Dariusz Bladek (N)*
RG Isiah Cage (A)
RT Jamal Campbell (N)

DE Craig Roh (A)*
DT Jhaustin Thomas (A)
DT Drake Nevis (A)*
DE Alex Bazzie (A)*

WLB Chris Ackie (N)*
MLB Bear Woods (A)
SAM Shaq Richardson (A)

BCB Tommie Campbell (A)*
BHB Jeff Richards (A)*
S Alden Darby (A)
FHB Chris Humes (A)*
FCB Arjen Colquhoun (N)*

This projection of Toronto’s starting lineup includes eight nationals, which is one more than the minimum requirement of seven. Many of the team’s free agent additions were starting-calibre Canadians, which has provided the club with enviable ratio flexibility.

Well over half of the projected starters (15) are new to the roster, including almost the entire receiving corps and secondary. Two incumbent starters — running back A.J. Ouellette and defensive back Shaquille Richardson — were added late in 2019, starting a combined five games.

Toronto can easily start three Canadians receivers given that Llevi Noel and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. remain as backups. National fullback Regis Cibasu is also capable of playing slotback if called upon.

The club also has remarkable depth at national linebacker after adding Chris Ackie, Boseko Lokombo, and Nick Shortill in free agency. If Bear Woods doesn’t secure the job at middle linebacker — giving way to Jeff Knox Jr. or one of the team’s many nationals — the number of new starters in 2020 would increase to sixteen.

The offensive line remains a somewhat of a mystery, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team start an American at guard. I’ve penciled in Isiah Cage there, though it’s possible Randy Richards could be moved to the interior instead. Jamal Campbell was re-signed to a lucrative three-year contract, so there’s little doubt that he’ll be the starter at right tackle.

This list is all hypothetical, so take my projection with a grain of salt. That being said, there’s no doubt Toronto’s lineup will be dramatically different come the start of the regular season.

It will be fun to keep an eye on how the Argos fare in training camp and the preseason with so many starting spots up for grabs.

Just make sure you have a program on hand.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.