The Argos are parting ways with longtime OT Jamal Campbell in a stunning move. The Toronto Argonauts announced Campbell’s release on Monday afternoon. With comments coming from Argos general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons on Toronto moving on without one of its most tenured and favored players.
The Toronto native, Jamal Campbell, played 59 games for the Argos, starting 20 while winning a Grey Cup with the team in 2017.
Argos GM Michael Clemons statement
“This is a difficult decision. Saying goodbye to a young man who grew up in the city, was introduced to the game through our community programming and who he himself grew to be a leader and spokesperson in our community is without words.” said Argos General Manager Michael “Pinball” Clemons. “It has been said and I have often repeated, football is a great game but a terrible business. Given the direction, I am content that it was myself who communicated to Jamal and I hope I did so with the compassion, dignity, and humanity he deserves.”
What does Jamal Campbell’s release mean for the Argos moving forward?
The release of Jamal Campbell comes as a surprise, considering the quality of person and player he has been for the Argos for the last five seasons. But perhaps, the writing has been on the wall since last season ended and this offseason began. Campbell finished the 2021 season on the injured list, he played in only nine games, and Toronto was without him during their most crucial stretch of the year.
The salary cap undoubtedly plays a significant role in Jamal Campbell’s departure. On their offensive line, Toronto brought back Shane Richards and Dariusz Bladek, and they then signed offensive linemen Justin Lawrence away from the Calgary Stampeders in free agency.
While the team did part ways with several big-ticket-free agents before last season in Charleston Hughes, Drake Nevis, John White, Cordarro Law, Cameron Judge, Nick Arbuckle, and others, Toronto has also added several big names to their roster in Andrew Harris, JaGared Davis, Brandon Banks, etc.
There’s no doubt that Campbell’s age (28) and salary played a role in his departure, and the numbers game squeezed him out.
The Argos currently have 85 players on their roster. With the season starting in June, more roster moves could be upcoming.
On Monday, Toronto added American DL Kendall Futrell. The 24-year old Futrell spent time with the B.C. Lions in 2021 after stints with the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans in 2020. The 6’2, 225lb native of Winterville, North Carolina, played four seasons at East Carolina University. Throughout 40 games, Futrell tallied 67 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, four forced fumbles, and was named Second Team All-AAC after his Senior season.
It’s a quality depth signing by the Argos, but Campbell’s release takes center stage on this day.
How will The Argos Replace Jamal Campbell?
It’s unfortunate because Toronto doesn’t have a logical in-house replacement for Campbell on their roster. It’s possible that because of their depth on the interior with Blake, Nicastro, Bladek, and Lawrence. Shane Richards, who filled in admirably at guard in 2021, could return to his natural RT spot. By doing so, the team could maintain the ratio advantage on their offensive line. Toronto had four national starters upfront a year ago. Theren Churchill and Dylan Giffen are also two highly thought of national players who could be in the mix to start at right tackle.
Another option could be the returning Isaiah Cage. The projected starter at left tackle missed all of 2021 due to a foot injury. Cage could either slide back to the blindside, moving last year’s starter Dejon Allen to the right side, or he could make a move there himself.
Although the Argos hit gold in last year’s draft with the selection of Peter Nicastro, thanks to the stellar scouting of assistant GM Vince Magri, it’s challenging to see a scenario where Toronto will find their immediate answer at offensive tackle in May’s CFL Draft even though the Argos have two second-round picks this year, thanks to the Nick Arbuckle trade to Edmonton.
However, the most significant loss will be in Toronto’s locker room. Jamal Campell was a beloved and respected figure and one of the team’s best leaders. He was the Argos nomination for the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, recognizing a CFL player who demonstrated the attributes of Canada’s veterans: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship, and contribution to Canadian communities.
Jamal Campbell’s presence in Toronto will be missed on and off the field.