The Argos continue to attack the free-agent market after a flurry of high-profile moves that netted them superstars like RB Andrew Harris, DB Dashaun Amos, and DE Ja’Gared Davis. Toronto is following that up with two more significant signings.
Argos Sign Defensive Linemen Adrian Tracy
On Wednesday, Toronto announced the signing of veteran defensive linemen Adrian Tracy.
Tracy, 34, is coming out of retirement to help bolster the Argos pass rush after not getting the opportunity to play with Montreal, who he signed with before 2020 due to the cancelation of that CFL season.
The 6’3, 248lb defensive lineman spent five seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2015-2019) before his signing in Montreal and tallied 139 tackles, 21 sacks, two interceptions, and five forced fumbles in 58 career games with 51 starts.
The Virginia native began his pro-playing career in the NFL with the New York Giants in 2010 after being drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, and Tracy would go on to win a Super Bowl with New York in 2012. The two-time FCS All-American at William & Mary played three seasons with the Giants before landing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2014.
A lot like the signing of G/C Justin Lawrence. The Tracy acquisition should help Toronto’s depth in the trenches. A year ago, the Boatmen were struck with injuries on both the offensive and defensive line.
Toronto started so many defensive ends throughout the 2021 season; players like Shane Ray, who is currently a free agent working out for NFL teams, and veteran free-agent Cordarro Law missed significant time a year ago. Tracy could be a critical addition upfront teaming up with his former Ti-Cats teammate Ja’Gared Davis.
Argos Set To Land WR Markeith Ambles
Although not yet official, after days of speculation, indications are that a signing between the Argos and free-agent WR Markeith Ambles is imminent.
The running joke in CFL circles is how the Boatmen will bring onboard anyone that has coached or played in Calgary. Toronto’s social media team has played into it by labeling themselves as Calgary East. And then on Wednesday, playfully announcing that they had also signed away Calgary’s team horse Quick Six.
Horsing around aside, the recruiting ability of Argos GM Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons has certainly played a role in luring top free agents to Toronto. You could read more about that specific process here in a fantastic behind-the-scenes article written by Mike Hogan at Argonauts.ca.
However, Toronto’s success in recruiting players goes beyond Pinball’s magic touch. The connections on the Argos staff have played a heavy hand in the team’s success in signing these specific free agents. It’s easy to connect the dots. Former Calgary OC Ryan Dinwiide has added coaching colleagues like DC Corey Mace to his staff, and in turn, it’s only natural for them to bring in players they are familiar with.
However, Dinwiddie and Mace are not the only two members of Double Blue playing a part in player recruitment. One of the figures who played a factor in Andrew Harris coming to the Six is Argonauts receivers coach and pass game coordinator Pete Costanza. The former running backs coach for the Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers helped sway Harris towards Toronto. Costanza also has a history with wide receiver Markeith Ambles. Costanza was Ambles position coach from 2018-to 2019 in Calgary. So he knows Markeith very well and will coach him again in 2022.
Markeith Ambles Long Journey Back To The Six
Once upon a time, Markeith Ambles was a Toronto Argonaut. Albeit for a brief period, before he was let go at final roster cuts in 2016.
From his college days to his journey as a pro in the CFL. Ambles has taken an unconventional route with tons of adversity.
The Georgia native, A 5-star recruit and one of the nation’s top-ranked college prospects. Ambles began his college career at USC in 2010. But things took a downward turn quickly for Markeith when he was suspended in October of that year due to being late to team functions.
After being dismissed from the team in November, he rejoined USC in January 2011. But Ambles withdrew from the university in August of 2011 after being declared academically ineligible.
He would then spend the 2012 season with Arizona Western College, where he was named first-team All-WSFL and All-ACCAC as he led the Matadors with 44 receptions for 757 yards and six touchdowns.
Ambles would then transfer and finish his final two college years at Houston. As a Cougar, Markeith was a second-team all AAC player and rebounded from his earlier academic issues at USC by being named to the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.
When he graduated, the 6’2 201lb receiver/returner at U of H was overlooked by NFL teams. Probably due to his early reputation at USC.
Eventually, Toronto came calling and took a chance on him in the CFL, but he didn’t make the cut.
In 2018, Ambles landed in Calgary with the Stamps and made their roster. He started becoming a key contributor late in that season, catching four touchdowns in six games, but an injury in practice wiped out his chances of playing in the Grey Cup, which the Stampeders won.
Ambles caught 35 passes for 407 yards in nine games in his second year with the Stamps. However, adversity hit again, as he suffered an ankle injury which caused him to miss the remainder of that season. The follow-up year, 2020, was wiped out due to COVID.
In 2021, Markeith Ambles had his best season in Canada, playing all 14 games; he led the Stamps in receptions with 54 and finished second on the team with 686 yards while scoring three majors.
With Toronto, Markeith Ambles reunites with coaches Ryan Dinwiddie and Pete Costanza. But also with teammates DaVaris Daniels, Juwan Brescasion, and Eric Rogers. Ambles will likely play the field slotback position with Rogers as the boundary slot. With Brescasin, Daniels, and emerging young star Kurleigh Gittens in the starting lineup.
Several CFL teams boast terrific 1-2 combos at receiver. From Lucky Whitehead and Bryan Burnham in BC to Kamar Jorden and Reggie Begelton in Calgary or Lewis and Wieneke in Montreal. But Toronto might have an argument for the best overall starting group from one to five.
There’s resentment in CFL circles that the Argos are taking a page out of the Stampeders playbook. But the truth is that the playbooks being used belong to play-callers Ryan Dinwiddie and defensive coordinator Corey Mace. They are simply bringing in their players to run those plays.
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