The Argos have come out the gates on the first official day of CFL free agency swinging for the fences. TSN’s Farhan Lalji sent shockwaves when he reported that multiple-time Grey Cup champion and five-time CFL All-Star RB Andrew Harris had agreed to terms on a contract with the Toronto Argonauts.
The Argos have now confirmed the signing. The Harris signing follows the day one acquisitions of LB Wynton McManis, OL Justin Lawrence, DB DaShaun Amos, and superstar pass rusher DE Ja’Gared Davis. All in a day’s work for the Argonauts brain trust.
Below is Toronto’s official press release on today’s signing. With a quote by Argos general manager Michael’ Pinball’ Clemons.
ARGOS AGREE TO TERMS WITH THREE-TIME GREY CUP CHAMPION & FIVE-TIME CFL ALL-STAR RB ANDREW HARRIS
TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts announced today they have agreed to terms with Canadian RB Andrew Harris.
“Respectfully, the best running back in the Canadian Football League,” said Argos GM Michael Clemons. “Homegrown through junior football, he is not defined by his birth certificate but refined by our Canadian game. His will to win is only paralleled by his love of the game. Andrew is a gift, a game-changer.”
Harris, 34, joins the Argos with one of the most decorated resumes for a running back in CFL history. Three Grey Cup championships (’11, ’19,’ 21), five CFL All-Star nominations (’12,’ 15-’18), six West All-Star nominations (’12,’ 15-’19), Most Outstanding Canadian Award (‘ 17), Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian (’11,’ 19), Grey Cup Most Valuable Player (‘ 19), led the league in rushing three times (‘ 17-’19) and is the CFL career leader for rushing yards by a Canadian. The Winnipeg native spent the last five seasons (2016-2021) playing for his hometown Blue Bombers where he would rush for over 5,000 yards and 25 touchdowns while catching 340 passes for more than 2,500 receiving yards and another ten majors. The 5’10, 216lb running back began his CFL career with the B.C. Lions in 2010 and would spend the first six seasons of his CFL career with the Leos (2010-2015), rushing for more than 1,000 yards twice while winning his first Grey Cup in just his second season in the league. Harris has accumulated 9,661 rushing yards, 576 receptions, 5,223 receiving yards, and 83 total touchdowns over his 176 career games.
Initial Thoughts On The Argonauts Signing Andrew Harris
The face of the champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers and arguably the face of the CFL is now in Toronto. The Argos signing of Andrew Harris is a bold move, and it certainly helps cache at the box office.
Despite being 34-years old, the highly decorated future CFL Hall of Famer Harris is still a top-tier RB in the league. And on paper, his running style is something that Toronto was lacking a season ago. Harris’s tackle-breaking running style should serve as the perfect complement to dynamic pass catcher DJ Foster.
The Harris signing signals that Toronto will most likely not re-sign free agent John White. Who, in many ways, was very similar to Foster in style. Harris will also help the Argos from a ratio standpoint. Having a Canadian at that spot gives CFL teams great flexibility.
With White’s salary off the books and other top salaries like Charleston Hughes. Toronto was able to add two proven winners into their locker room in Ja’Gared Davis and now Andrew Harris.
The Argos might not need Harris to be the bell cow he has always been. And quite frankly, At 34 years of age, there are questions as to whether Harris can be that same player again. Time takes its toll on every football player. And that’s certainly the case with running backs at an advanced age. The Argos might need to utilize a committee-style backfield to maximize Harris’s effectiveness over a long season.
When he was on the field in 2021, Harris played at an elite level. During the playoffs, he rushed for over 200 yards in two starts. And Harris averaged 5.4 yards per rush and rushed for 623 yards in just seven games played during the regular season. But doing that over an entire year is now in question because he could not do that last season. Injuries caught up to him. Has time?
However, despite winning the Eastern Division and getting to the East Final last season, the two areas that Toronto lacked in 2021 were a consistent pass rush and rushing attack. On day one of free agency, they have answered the call and addressed both areas.
This will be Andrew Harris’s swan song in the CFL and his last ride before heading into the Hall Of Fame. The Argos are hoping that he has at least one or more superstar seasons left in him. The team whose mantra for 2022 is ‘Unfinished Business’ is certainly going all in to complete their task of winning the Grey Cup next season.