Toronto Argonauts ‘moving forward’ with Chad Kelly as starting QB amid ongoing lawsuit

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The Toronto Argonauts are preparing for franchise quarterback Chad Kelly to be the starter in 2024 amid an ongoing lawsuit recently filed by the team’s former strength and conditioning coach.

“We are moving forward as Chad Kelly is our starter, as we would in any year. But, in any and every year, injuries can happen, anything can happen, so you’re always trying to prepare for those things,” general manager Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons said at the CFL Combine in Winnipeg.

The plaintiff, who has not been publicly named, filed a lawsuit with the Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday, Feb. 21 alleging Kelly harassed her repeatedly over the past two seasons and she was fired in January after rejecting his advances. The Argos filed a notice of intent to defend on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Clemons indicated he learned about the lawsuit at the same time as the public when it was reported on Feb. 22. He and head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said neither are involved in the lawyer process but are cooperating with the CFL’s investigation. Both men declined to discuss the lawsuit itself as it is an ongoing legal matter.

Some of the alleged incidents took place during the week leading up to the East Final, a game in which Kelly threw four interceptions as the Argonauts lost to the Montreal Alouettes 38-17. Clemons would not speculate whether the alleged incidents were a distraction for his QB and team.

The plaintiff is seeking $50,000 from Kelly for alleged Ontario Human Rights Code violations and at least an additional $295,603 from the Argos for wrongful dismissal. She claims the Argonauts breached the CFL’s violence against women policy by not submitting a critical incident report to the league’s head office after Kelly allegedly made threatening remarks. None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Kelly released a statement on social media on March 1 denying the allegations, though it was taken down later that same day. Clemons indicated that he’s unaware as to why his quarterback’s statement was deleted.

The CFL has hired an unnamed independent investigator to probe the case and deliver a full report before any potential league discipline is considered. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently told the media that the investigator has been given clear instructions not to limit the scope of their inquiry and provided no timeline for when the investigation could be done.

Cameron Dukes and Bryan Scott are the only two other quarterbacks currently on Toronto’s roster. Dukes went 1-1 as a starter in 2023 while throwing for 760 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, Scott has attempted four career passes in the CFL.

“We feel good about our second and third quarterback from last year, let those guys compete it out, see who’s gonna be Chad’s backup this season,” Dinwiddie said. “We feel like we have candidates in the building that can win football games and, like we do each year, we’ll look outside the building to add some competition at that position.”

Kelly was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player last season after throwing for 4,123 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions plus carrying the ball 41 times for 248 yards and eight touchdowns. He went 15-1 as a starter, helping lead the Argonauts to a 16-2 regular season record and a first-place finish in the East Division.

Toronto opens the 2024 regular season on Sunday, June 9 when the Argos host the B.C. Lions at BMO Field.

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