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Argos See Shakeup On Offensive Line, As Team Adds Free Agent Darius Ciraco, While Two 2022 Starters Depart

The Grey Cup Champion Argos welcome Canadian offensive linemen Darius Ciraco into the fold. While watching two veteran offensive linemen from their championship team leave through CFL free agency.

Argos Offensive Line Shakeup

The Argos’ offensive line in 2023 will have a different look as the first day of CFL free agency has seen two starters from 2022 exit in G/C/T Philip Blake (Saskatchewan) and G/C Justin Lawrence(Montreal). The now-former Argonauts linemen did a commendable job for the Grey Cup champs in 2022. Both national veterans were called upon to be solutions at positions affected by injury.

Particualrly, Philip Blake. The 37-year-old grizzled veteran G/C was thrust into playing left tackle last season when Toronto lost their two starting blindside tackles, Isiah Cage and Trevon Tate, to injury. The 2022 East All-Star, Blake, who was hobbled for most of last season, battled through for the Boatmen to give the team stability at a troubled spot. The Baylor standout, former NFL draft pick, and Toronto native leaves the Argonauts a champion as he continues his pro journey with the Riders in Saskatchewan.

Justin Lawrence was also a key component for Double Blue in 2022. The 26-year-old Alberta native signed on with Toronto last February from Calgary. With 2021 East All-Star rookie Peter Nicastro on the shelf due to a knee injury, Lawrence covered the Centre position for most of the 2022 season. The hard-nosed interior linemen was brought on as insurance and delivered on his policy. He heads to Montreal to fortify the Als up front.

ARGOS SIGN CANADIAN OL DARIUS CIRACO

TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today the team had signed Canadian OL Darius Ciraco.

Ciraco, 27, played 16 games for Ottawa last season after spending the first three seasons of his CFL career in Hamilton. The 6’4, 292lb lineman who attended The University of Calgary was drafted in the first round, sixth overall during the 2018 CFL Draft and was Hamilton’s nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie that season after starting all 18 regular season games and both playoff games. The Burlington, ON native has played 62 career regular-season games, five playoff games, and two Grey Cups.

New Look Argos Line In 2023

The signing of 27-year-old offensive linemen Darius Ciraco raises some exciting possibilities and questions for Toronto’s configuration upfront. The Burlington, Ontario, native has experience as a starter with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa REDBLACKS. At Centre and guard. The former 2018 Most Outstanding rookie for Hamilton seems like a natural replacement for the departing Justin Lawrence. Ciraco could be insurance for C Peter Nicastro, who struggled to return from knee surgery in 2022.

However, the departure of Phillip Blake, coupled with Ciraco’s arrival, sets up the possibility of the Argos moving one of their prized late-season acquisitions Ryan Hunter to his natural position of offensive tackle.

Hunter, 27, was initially drafted by the Argonauts with the ninth pick of the 2018 CFL Draft but signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he would play in the NFL for four seasons, winning a Super Bowl with K.C.

Last season, Hunter acclimated himself quickly with the Argos. Arriving in the fall and almost immediately assimilating into a starting role on the interior.

Toronto has re-signed offensive tackles Trevon Tate and Isiah Cage for 2023 to go along with All-Star OT Dejon Allen. But it’s possible that the Argonauts could choose to move the North Bay native, Hunter, to right or left tackle and, as a result, start four Canadians up front. With Ciraco teaming up with Nicastro and Dariusz Bladek on the interior. In that scenario, Dejon Allen would be the lone American starter on the offensive line.

Some aspects of the 2022 Grey Cup championship Argos squad remain the same, but change has been inevitable this offseason.

UPDATED 2023 TORONTO ARGONAUTS FREE AGENT TRACKER

PLAYERA/N/GPOSCOLLEGESTATUS
AMBLES MarkeithAWRHouston
AMOS DaShaunADBEast CarolinaExtended 02/05/23
BEDE BorisAKLavalExtended 02/04/23
BETHEL-THOMPSON McLeodAQBSacramento State
BLAKE PhilipNOLBaylorSigned W/Saskatchewan 2/14/23
BRESCACIN JuwanNWRNorthern IowaSigned W/Saskatchewan 2/14/23
CAGE IsiahAOLCarletonExtended 12/09/22
CALVER BrandonNFB/LBMcMasterExtended 12/28/22
DANIEL RobertsonADBBrigham YoungExtended 01/19/23
DANIELS DaVarisAWRNotre DameExtended 02/05/23
DAVIS Ja’GaredADLSouthern MethodistSigned W/Hamilton 2/15/23
EDWARDS ChrisALBIdahoSigned W/Ti-Cats 2/15/23
FOOTE FabionNDLMcMaster
GITTENS JR. KurleighNWRWilfrid LaurierExtended 02/03/23
HARRIS AndrewNRBNanaimo Raiders Jr.Re-Signed 2/10/23
LATOUR MaximeNLSSherbrookeExtended 02/04/23
LAWRENCE  JustinNOLAlbertaSigned with MTL 02/14/23
MCMANIS WyntonALBMemphisExtended 02/04/23
METCHIE RoyceNDBGuelphExtended 02/03/23
MUAMBA HenocNLBSt. Francis Xavier
OUELLETTE A.J.ARBOhioExtended 02/11/23
RAY ShaneADLMissouri
RICHARDSON ShaquilleALBArizona
ROGERS EricAWRCalifornia Lutheran
SMITH RobbieNDLWilfrid LaurierExtended 01/27/23
TATE TrevonAOLMemphisExtended 12/09/22

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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