Just hours before the Toronto Argonauts take the field for their first Double Blue scrimmage game of training camp. The Boatmen have shipped away one of their best defensive backs, Alden Darby, in a trade sending him to the defending CFL champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers for Offensive Tackle Terry Poole.
Alden Darby, who spent the last three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, is coming off his best year in the CFL with a five-interception campaign in 2019. The former Arizona State alum started 40 games in total for the Argos since 2017, registering 137 tackles, one sack, eight interceptions, and three touchdowns over that time frame. The risk-taking ballhawk was considered by many to be an important fixture on the back end of Toronto’s defense.
But a lot has changed between now and the end of the 2019 Argos season. The team has an entirely new defensive coaching staff, scheme, and philosophy, with Glen Young leading the charge as defensive coordinator and former CFL player Joshua Bell coaching the defensive backs. The Argonauts have brought on several new faces to their secondary, like Arjen Colquhoun, Robertson Daniel, Jamal Peters, Chris Edwards, and others to go along with key returning players like Shaquille Richardson.
For the Blue Bombers, acquiring Alden Darby to their secondary makes a lot of sense. Especially after coming off the news that Winnipeg lost starting DB Mercy Maston for the season due to a torn right Achilles injury in camp on Sunday. Getting a proven CFL starter in Darby, at this late stage of the process is a great fallback move for their franchise.
The surprising element to Alden Darby being dealt by the Argos is not the fact that he was traded away; after all, anytime a new staff comes on board, there’s bound to be turnover on the roster with inherited players from the previous regime. However, the player acquired in this transaction is the shocking aspect of this move by the Boatmen. Trading away a proven player like Darby for an unknown CFL commodity raises a lot of eyebrows.
Offensive Linemen Terry Poole, 29, is a former fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. Poole spent time in the NFL with Seattle, Miami, and Houston as a bench player mostly before finally getting an opportunity to stand out and start in the AAF with the San Diego Fleet and the XFL with the Houston Roughnecks in 2020.
The San Diego State alum Poole came into his own in the XFL, protecting the blind side of the league’s most dynamic passer and current Carolina Panthers quarterback PJ Walker. Poole was the third highest-graded offensive lineman in the XFL by Pro Football Focus. At 77.5, behind only Chargers OT Storm Norton (80.2) and Browns G Michael Dunn (79.5). Both Norton and Dunn started games in the NFL last season and performed very well. Dunn, in particular, helped the Browns upend the Steelers in the playoffs last year, neutralizing All-Pro Cameron Heyward.
Despite being a very talented pass protector with pro experience, the acquisition of Terry Poole raises questions about the Toronto Argonauts’ plans on their offensive line. Poole has the athleticism to slide inside to guard, but his natural talents are at offensive tackle.
The two projected starters at OT for the Argos are LT Isiah Cage and RT Jamal Campbell. 2019 first-overall selection, Shane Richards has slimmed down considerably from 350 to 280 pounds in preparation for this season. A lot has been expected of Richards to live up to his lofty draft status. Shane Richards started to open the 2019 season, but an injury put him on the shelf for the rest of the year. Maurice Simba has the versatility to play at tackle if needed, but the inclusion of Poole raises questions about the Argos faith in their current group.
As evidenced by this trade, you can throw projected depth charts for the Toronto Argonauts into the ocean. All bets are off when it comes to a new coaching staff. A move like this, trading away Darby, is a warning shot to many of the holdover players from the 2019 Argos. The new-look Toronto Argonauts are setting sail in a different direction this year. By the time camp ends, it’s a wonder how many of the holdovers from 2019 will remain on board.