The 2022 Toronto Argonauts could have as many as ten new starters this coming CFL season. The 2021 Eastern Division champs have loaded up on star power in an effort to get over the hump and win the Grey Cup.
Toronto Argonauts Roster Composition
Not counting the twelve players that the Argos added last week in the Global and CFL Draft. As of press time, the Argonauts’ have 91 players under contract, and twenty-seven of them are new arrivals to the six. There could be more changes on the way in the coming days with training camp on the horizon.
Toronto has parted ways with several veterans in recent weeks. Most recently, RB D.J. Foster and defensive backs Jeff Richards and Crezdon Butler. The numbers and cap game could continue to churn as the Boatmen steer their ship into training camp.
Camps kick off this coming week on May 11th with a three-day rookie camp that was supposed to include veteran quarterbacks and first-year CFL players before rosters are cut down to 85 on May 14th. Veterans are expected to arrive on Sunday, May 15th, and two days later, the roster gets trimmed down to the final 75 plus non-counters.
All these roster moves will set the stage for the franchise’s first preseason game since 2019. The Argos will be at the REDBLACKS on Friday, May 27th. The preseason will conclude with the University of Guelph, Toronto’s official training camp site, hosting the Argos and Ti-Cats, as they square off on Friday, June 3rd, in the final exhibition game.
The return of preseason games will not only benefit players who are looking to make a positive impression and cement their spots on Double Blue’s roster. But it will aid the Argos’ revamped coaching staff under head coach Ryan Dinwiddie in deciding who will be welcomed on board when the regular season arrives.
I am willfully ignoring the elephant in the room, which is the current stalemate in negotiations between the CFL and the players association on a new bargaining agreement. Any delays in that process could halt momentum and shift the league’s timeline in returning back to standard camp/preseason normalcy.
Let’s pretend that cooler heads will prevail. And that things will presume as scheduled. Here is a position by position breakdown of the Toronto Argonauts’ current roster heading into what many hope is a fully-fledged training camp next Sunday.
Toronto Argonauts 2022 Roster Breakdown
Toronto Argonauts Offence
The Argos quarterback position is set. McLeod Bethel-Thompson is finally arriving into a CFL season as the unquestioned starter. The real intrigue exists in the depth chart below him. Antonio Pipkin provides starting experience and roster value as a change of pace at the pivot. But all eyes will be on Chad Kelly as he enters camp.
The Boatmen’s backups should see plenty of reps in camp and snaps in the preseason. Chad Kelly has elite tools, but it will take time for him to transition to the Canadian game and ascend up the depth chart. Cole McDonald and Austin Simmons could make a play for a spot on the practice squad.
It’s a new voyage for the Boatmen at running back. The team has flipped the position Canadian, with the addition of megastar Andrew Harris and the drafting of Daniel Adeboboye. Not listed in the above photo is the departure of DJ Foster. New arrival, American RB/KR Javon Leake could be a candidate to replace Foster as the team’s satellite back.
Toronto is rolling the dice that Andrew Harris, 35 years old, will be able to carry the load for 19 weeks. AJ Ouellette and rookie runner Daniel Adeboboye could be tasked with carrying some of the load during the regular season. National FB Dion Pellerin, who has position versatility, could help Toronto maintain the ratio at RB if Harris were to miss any regular-season action.
The Argos are also banking on Brandon Banks returning to form after his worst CFL season to date a year ago. Luckily for Toronto, because of their impressive depth at receiver, Banks, 34 years old, doesn’t have to be a focal point in the passing attack.
Toronto already boasts a receiving corps of emerging young star Kurleigh Gittens Jr., DaVaris Daniels, Eric Rogers, Juwan Brescasin, and new arrival Markeith Ambles. The team has solid depth with Chandler Worthy, Damon Jeanpiere, Dejon Brissett, Earnest Edwards, and an intriguing group of newcomers such as Boise State’s A.J. Richardson.
The key to the Argos’ offence is their offensive line. The final starting configuration upfront is subject to change. Veteran OT Jamal Campbell is gone. Toronto is welcoming back presumed starting LT Isiah Cage, who is projected to precipitate a move to RT of last year’s starter on the blindside, Dejon Allen. Martez Ivey and Trevon Tate are currently listed at right tackle, but neither player showed enough last season to warrant long-term confidence.
All-CFL rookie Peter Nicastro, who is healthy after going down to injury late last season, will man the centre position. The Boatmen brought back guards Dariusz Bladek and Shane Richards.
Despite his versatility and high character, Respected veteran Philip Blake could be in an uphill battle to make the roster. At 36 years of age, with former Stamps Justin Lawrence and Jonathan Zamora on the roster. Blake could become expendable.
Toronto also has long-term hopes for Theren Churchill, Dylan Giffen and drafted Gregor MacKellar sixth overall. The latter could be in the Boatmen’s starting lineup as the season progresses. Toronto would love to repeat the same success with the rookie MacKellar that they had a year ago with Peter NiCastro.
Toronto Argonauts Special Teams
Arguably the Argos’ most outstanding player in 2021, Boris Bede, is back in the fold. And this year, the versatile Canadian bred specialist could get some rest from kicking, punting, and kickoffs this Spring.
The Argos will have some extra legs in camp, and kicker Toshiki Sato could get a more extended audition than a year ago. And the Boatmen added punter John Haggerty in the Global draft.
Boris Bede will also be happy to see the return of long snapper Jake Reinhart. Bede paid tribute to his injured teammate last season by holding up his number after nailing a game-winning field goal against Hamilton last season.
The one area that will garner significant attention in camp and preseason is the Argos return game. Late last year, Chandler Worthy helped provide a spark. But Toronto has several in-house candidates who could push Worthy for that role.
Two intriguing prospects to watch out for are newcomers Darece Roberson and Javon Leake. The dynamic 170lb speedster Roberson was a big-time returner at Wayne State. Leake was named First Team All-Big Ten Return Specialist in 2019 at Maryland. He returned 59 kickoffs for an average of 24.5 yards with three touchdowns in his career with the Terps.
Special teams are always a fringe players’ best bet to stick on the active roster, and the bonus of preseason games will aid them greatly.
Toronto Argonauts Defence
Newly minted Argos defensive coordinator Corey Mace will have a lot of fun toys to play with in Toronto. Much like head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, Mace got some of his Calgary bandmates to join him in the six. Lead singer JaGared Davis will certainly help sing a new tune for Toronto’s pass rush.
The Argos got arguably the steal of the draft when Western defensive linemen Deionte Knight fell to them at the top of the second round last week. Knight can play all over the formation at nearly 280lbs, but a tandem with him and Shawn Oakman on the interior could provide nightmares for opposing CFL offenses. That’s provided that Knight doesn’t land an NFL contract in the coming days. He is currently working out for NFL teams in rookie minicamps.
Toronto has some intriguing Americans on the edge in Shane Ray and Jachai Polite. Both have high pedigrees but have yet to live up to their billing. Ray showed glimpses last season for Toronto but was slowed by a myriad of injuries. Polite is a CFL rookie who once upon a time was a standout in the SEC.
The linebacker position is going to look vastly different than in 2021. Gone are Cameron Judge and the recently retired Dexter McCoil. Henoc Muamba is back to captain the Boatmen’s ship, but he will have new sailors on deck with him. Wynton McManis, who has a history with Corey Mace, returns up north from an NFL stint and will be a crucial figure at linebacker.
The question remains, who will replace All-CFL player Chris Edwards at the SAM position while he is under a six-game suspension. Training camp and the preseason could help determine that. Corey Mace and his staff will be mixing and matching several players from the secondary into that pivotal role.
The strength of the Argos football club is their secondary. Very quietly, Toronto has one of the best groups in the entire CFL. And they have added DaShaun Amos and Royce Metchie. The Boatmen have a lot of size, length, and versatility on the back end of their defence.
Double Blue’s depth at DB is why two quality veterans like Jeff Richards and Crezdon Butler were let go.
Americans Jalen Collins, Jamal Peters, and Thomas DeCoud were stellar a year ago in coverage and in the open field as tacklers. The often-overlooked Shaq Richardson is one of the best hybrid players in Canada, pound for pound. He can play at an elite level at cornerback, halfback, or safety. Corey Mace and returning defensive backs coach Joshua Bell have many enticing options in their secondary at their disposal.
The Toronto Argonauts have arguably one of the best rosters from top to bottom of any CFL team. And a significant reason for that is their tremendous Canadian depth. The team also has a very good synergy from their front office to the coaching staff, and it’s the strongest it has been in years.
However, the one area that stands out as a concern for Toronto is offensive tackle. A season ago, it was a problem spot for the Boatmen against elite pass rushers, especially when injuries caught up to them in the East Final.
Luckily, the Argos got one of their enemies in nemesis JaGared Davis to join them. Toronto won’t have to worry about him terrorizing them as he did in last year’s Final. But with Jamal Campbell gone, uncertainty with Isaiah Cage’s durability, and a huge question mark at RT. Toronto’s weak link could hold them back from reaching the mountain top, especially if a team with a lethal pass rush like Winnipeg is standing in the Argonauts’ way.
Toronto is going all-in to win a championship. They hope that players like Davis, Harris, and Banks help them get over the hump when the games matter most. Ultimately it will come down to McLeod Bethel Thompson’s level of play and keeping him upright for the entire season.
The CFL season is coming. Let’s hope that the league gets out of its own way and clears a path for the fun to begin.