Toronto Argonauts general manager Pinball Clemons wants you to believe the hype about his new-look team, just not all the rumours.
The affable local legend has assembled an all-star roster, leading to allegations of salary cap mismanagement, but Clemons has dismissed those types of accusations to Argonauts.ca writer Mike Hogan.
“The reality is, we are in the middle of the pack,” he explained. “Not only have we not exceeded the salary cap, we are behind several other teams.”
That hasn’t stopped rampant speculation from fan. The CFL had previously advised teams to spend only to the salary cap floor in 2021 due to the financial ramifications of COVID-19, but some have questioned the effectiveness of that gentlemen’s agreement. The Argonauts were viewed as the likely culprit in violate those terms after a number of splash acquisitions.
In addition to holding on to many of their key pieces from the 2020, the Argos have amassed a slew of notable names in recent weeks. A once suspect defensive line now boasts star CFL veterans in Charleston Hughes, Cordarro Law and Odell Willis, along with NFL first round pick Shane Ray and third rounder Eli Harold.
The receiving corps is equally improved, with Eric Rogers brought over from Calgary and former Pittsburgh star Martavis Bryant in the fold, along with first round pick Kendall Wright. The backfield features new quarterback Nick Arbuckle and a trio of veteran NFL runners in Karlos Williams, Bishop Sankey and Kenneth Dixon.
By comparison, the opening of free agency was fairly uneventful, bringing in just running back John White IV and quarterback Antonio Pipkin from other teams, while adding former Clemson pivot Kelly Bryant off the neg list. According to Clemons, that was by design.
“It certainly wasn’t going to be as busy as last year because we had done a lot of the work ahead of time. That really speaks to the time and effort our guys put in,” he said.
“They had such a firm grasp of what our team was composed of, where we’re hoping to get better, and with the leadership of John Murphy we had some very exciting things take place in the last couple of weeks.”
Those moves have fired up fans and opponents alike, but the Argonauts say they aren’t done. With room under the salary cap, there are moves still to make but many are still asking themselves how those numbers will work come training camp.