The Toronto Argonauts were able to pull disruptive defensive end Ja’Gared Davis away from the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats in free agency.
The Ticats took their best shot to keep Davis in black and gold, but president of football operations and head coach Orlondo Steinauer knows the realities of athletes hitting the open market.
“I wouldn’t say that it was a surprise because if a player gets to free agency, anything can happen. Demands, their lives — everything changes. I know from the outside in it’s always just about football or the team. A player like Ja’Gared is going to start no matter where he goes,” Steinauer said.
“He’s a player that we coveted, that’s why he was here. I’m never surprised because everybody’s got different reasons for wanting to change atmospheres. Players earn the right to be free, so when they get that opportunity there is always a chance that you can lose players in free agency.”
The 31-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Argos for the 2022 CFL season worth $230,000 in hard money. That’s a $50,000 difference from what the six-foot-one, 238-pound pass rusher earned last season in the Hammer. The Ticats were competitive in the bidding, but Davis’ ties to defensive coordinator Corey Mace tilted in Toronto’s favour.
Davis played 30 regular season games over two seasons with the Tiger-Cats, recording 93 tackles, 19 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was a terror during the 2021 Grey Cup playoffs, posting seven tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble while helping Hamilton reach a second straight CFL championship game.
Each person involved from the Ticats front office, Steinauer, assistant general managers Drew Allemang, Spencer Zimmerman and Ed Hervey along with defensive coordinator Mark Washington were in agreement: Davis was a key piece and one the team wanted to keep in Hamilton colours.
“We understand how we’re going to operate from within and we don’t feel like we have to divulge how we go through our process and decision-making to the public,” Steinauer said.
“We have a great working environment, very transparent and we really have a transformational environment where we’re collaborative with it. We make decisions collectively in our organization.”
The Tiger-Cats pivoted quickly to boost the defensive front on the interior by signing Micah Johnson to a one-year contract for the 2022 season worth $157,000 in hard money. Veteran J.R. Tavai was brought in to compete among others for the vacant end spot left by Davis in what will be a major area of focus for the Tabbies.