After months of speculation about his potential retirement, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has informed the Toronto Argonauts that he is planning to play next season, though it remains unclear whether that will be in the CFL.
According to a new report from TSN’s Farhan Lalji: “QB McLeod Bethel Thompson has informed #Argos that he is planning to play again in 2023. If he plays in CFL it will be in Toronto. The club is hopeful for a final answer before the start of free agency but will be patient. Money is rarely the determining factor for MBT.”
Bethel-Thompson led the CFL in passing yards in 2022, completing 387-of-579 passes for 4,731 yards, 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He helped the team capture victory in the 109th Grey Cup but exited the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a dislocated thumb.
The 34-year-old underwent offseason surgery for the injury and is expected to make a full recovery, but is set to become a free agent on February 14. While Toronto has indicated a desire to see the veteran return, changes in his personal life could cause Bethel-Thompson to look for options closer to home.
The former pro football journeyman has played in alternative professional leagues in the past, spending time in the Arena Football League and United Football League in between NFL stops. He spent the cancelled 2020 CFL season playing in The Spring League, which formed the foundations of the current USFL. Even more opportunities are currently available, thanks to the launch of the third version of the XFL.
While neither spring league can compete with the CFL financially, money will not be the quarterback’s primary concern. His wife, Chinaka Hodge, is currently serving as head writer for an upcoming Marvel series on Disney+ called Ironheart, a heavy workload that has made it increasingly difficult for Bethel-Thompson to leave his family for six months in Canada.
Should he return to the CFL, it appears that Toronto is the only destination he will consider. In five seasons with the Argonauts, Bethel-Thompson has thrown for 13,261 yards, 70 touchdowns and 49 interceptions — good enough for fourth all-time in the franchise’s passing record book behind Ricky Ray, Conredge Holloway and Damon Allen.
Argonauts management has said they are comfortable with current backup Chad Kelly should the incumbent starter not wish to return, but will not hand him the reins without a training camp battle.
With the CFL’s legal tampering window scheduled to open on Sunday, Toronto will need clarity from Bethel-Thompson as soon as possible as they potentially wade into the quarterback market.