The Toronto Argonauts have signed quarterback Chad Kelly to a three-year contract extension through the 2026 season.
During his first year as a QB1 in the CFL, Kelly is playing at a Most Outstanding Player-type level and had led the Argos to an 8-1 record. He has the highest quarterback rating in the league (118.7), best touchdown to interception ratio (2.29), most rushing touchdowns in the league (six), the highest percentage of drives that result in touchdowns (26.5), and percentage of completed passes over 20 yards (53.2).
The Buffalo native has completed 149-of-213 passes (70 percent) for 2,402 yards with 16 passing touchdowns versus seven interceptions in 2023. The Kelly-led Argos’ offence is averaging 29.2 offensive points per game and 380.9 yards of offence per game, both of which rank second in the CFL.
“Today marks not only a contract extension, but an extension of my commitment to the amazing city of Toronto, my teammates, coaches, front office and MLSE,” Kelly said in a statement.
“I want to thank each one of you for your unwavering support over the last two years, and I look forward to leading this team to future Grey Cups. I also want to thank the Lord for providing me daily strength to do what I do best, my family for always being there for me throughout this process and the team around me for making this all come together.”
The 29-year-old QB joined the Argos in 2022 and was thrust into action during the fourth quarter of the 109th Grey Cup in November. Kelly completed four-of-six passes for 43 yards and rushed twice for 21 yards, including a 20-yard scramble on second down to set up the Argos’ game-winning touchdown and help Toronto secure its record 18th championship.
“Not only has he played lights-out football but he has seemed to raise the level of opposing quarterbacks we’ve faced. However, the greatest part of this story is what you don’t see. Mr. Kelly has led this team from the offseason back in the winter to a team that’s become a consistent winner,” general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons said in a statement.
“A competent voice, a leader by example, he’s raised the level of his peers and prioritized the team amidst his all-star stats! He arrives early and stays late — phenomenal. On top of all that, Chad is, and will continue to be, a pillar for us in the team’s commitment to the community and youth football development in Toronto.”
The second-year CFL passer was an offensive assistant coach at East Mississippi Community College in 2021 after NFL stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos from 2017 to 2020.
He was originally selected in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After starting his collegiate career at Clemson, Kelly transferred to East Mississippi Community College where he led the Lions to a National Championship before eventually finding a home at The University of Mississippi. He threw for just under 7,000 yards and 50 touchdowns with the Rebels while rushing for 958 yards and 15 more majors in two seasons.
“Chad’s play on the field and leadership off the field make him the perfect fit for us here in Toronto,” head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said in a statement. “You’ve seen what he’s done so far this season and we have no doubt the best is still yet to come with Chad. He is a player who can lead us to where we are trying to go and that is to compete consistently for Grey Cups each year.”
As with all CFL players, Kelly is still eligible to sign an NFL contract during the early portion of the off-season via the league’s NFL window. However, his CFL rights are now exclusively tied to Toronto through February 2027.
The Argos (8-1) are scheduled to visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-6) on Monday, Sept. 4 for the annual Labour Day Classic with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EDT.