Argos sign former Riders star defensive end Charleston Hughes

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Toronto Argonauts have signed star defensive lineman Charleston Hughes, per sources.

Hughes was released on Wednesday by the Saskatchewan Roughriders prior to CFL free agency which is scheduled to open on Tuesday, February 9.

It’s a two-year contract through the 2022 season which included a $50,000 signing bonus. For 2021, Hughes has a base salary of $73,000 with the hard money total checking in at $155,000. He can earn $1,000 for leading the Argos in sacks, $2,000 for leading the league in sacks and $2,500 for being named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

The 37-year-old led the CFL with 16 sacks during the 2019 season, adding 50 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown in 17 games. Hughes was scheduled to earn $157,500 in 2020, however, he only received $10,000 due to the CFL season being cancelled.

The six-foot-one, 246-pound pass rusher has led the CFL in sacks five times in his career: 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The two-time Grey Cup champion had spent his entire career in Calgary until he was dealt to Hamilton and then to Saskatchewan. Hughes was acquired in February 2018 when the Riders sent quarterback Vernon Adams to the Ticats.

Hughes has played 181 career CFL games, recording 457 tackles, 130 sacks, 30 forced fumbles, three interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. During his two seasons in Saskatchewan, Hughes averaged nearly one sack per game with 31 in 34 contests.

“His list of accomplishments speaks for itself and the veteran presence he will bring to the locker room is immeasurable,” Argos vice president of player personnel John Murphy said in a statement. “Charleston makes a living in other team’s backfields and we are ecstatic he is on our side.”

After being voted a CFL all-star by the media and head coaches, Hughes drew the ultimate sign of respect from his competitors and earned a CFL Players’ Association first-team selection. Offensive tackles have been trying to slow down Hughes for years and it hasn’t happened on a consistent basis.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.