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Toronto Argonauts Release Two Players, Add Three Others

The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today they have signed American QB Ben Holmes, American DL Brandon Barlow, and American WR Jeremiah Haydel. The team also announced the release of American DL Jachai Polite and American WR A.J. Richardson.

Toronto Argonauts Week 9 Transactions

The release of DE Jachai Polite and WR A.J. Richardson is surprising at this point of the season. Neither player had carved out a significant role for the Argonauts as a CFL rookie. But both players came highly recommended from south of the border. And showed some flashes in the early days of training camp.

OTTAWA ON MAY 27 Toronto Argonauts wide receiver A J Richardson 85 turns to run during Canadian Football League preseason action between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks on May 27 2022 at TD Place at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa ON Canada Photo by Richard A WhittakerIcon Sportswire via Getty Images

A.J. Richardson nearly started last week’s game in place of Dejon Brissett and DaVaris Daniels. But was a last-second scratch before the Ottawa game.

Richardson, 26, came highly recommended by former Ryan Dinwiddie teammate and current Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury in the offseason. And showed some flashes in camp but could not crack a very deep receiving lineup.

Richardson spent time with the Arizona Cardinals between 2019-2021 after signing with the NFL team in April 2019. The 6’0, 212lb receiver played four seasons at Boise State University (2015-2018), where he tallied 99 receptions for 1,474 yards and 11 touchdowns in 53 career games. The California native had a stellar senior campaign, hauling 54 catches for 825 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018 for the Broncos. Argos Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie is also an alum of Boise State, where he was a three-year starting QB from 2001-2003.

After having great success a season ago with the acquisitions of American defensive linemen Shawn Oakman, Shane Ray, and Dewayne Hendrix, the Argos took a flyer on former Florida standout edge rusher and NFL third-round draft pick Jachai Polite.

Polite playing sparingly in three games for the Argos this season, recording two tackles.

The 23-year-old Florida native was a third-round draft choice of the New York Jets during the 2019 NFL Draft after being named First Team All-SEC after his 2018 junior season at the University of Florida. The three-year Gator (2016-2018) added 43 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and eight forced fumbles in 29 career games.

Richardson and Polite are two promising talents who didn’t pan out in the Six.

Argonauts Add Three Americans

QB Ben Holmes, 27, was the fourth overall selection in the USFL Draft by the New Jersey Generals in 2022 but was released in training camp. The 6’0, 200lb pivot spent training camp with Montreal this year before being signed by Edmonton last month and getting in one game for the Elks, recording no stats. The New York state native played for the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League in 2021. The Tarleton State alum (2017-2019) passed for nearly 6,000 yards and 62 touchdowns in 25 games while rushing for 560 yards. Holmes attended Nassau Community College from 2015-2016 and passed for 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns en route to being named Freshman of the Year, Player of the Year, and National Bowl Game MVP during his time with the Lions.

This is the second pivot that Toronto has added in as many weeks. Last week, the Argos inked Khalil Tate. A curious signing by the Double Blue, who now have four quarterbacks on their roster.

Holmes is making the rounds in Canada. He will have an opportunity to make an impression with his new coaches while learning the system, most likely on the Argonauts’ practice roster.

CHESTNUT HILL MASSACHUSETTS NOVEMBER 28 Brandon Barlow 44 of the Boston College Eagles runs through a tunnel of teammates to celebrate the senior night before the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Alumni Stadium on November 28 2020 in Chestnut Hill Massachusetts Photo by Maddie MeyerGetty Images

DL Brandon Barlow, 24, spent six years at Boston College (2016-2021), where he redshirted as a Freshman and played in 50 games for the Eagles, totaling 128 tackles, 18 for loss, ten sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. The 6’4, 260lb New York native was a team captain at BC and was named to the ACC All-Academic Team in 2020.

Brandon Barlow may not have the cache or draft pedigree of Jachai Polite. But he certainly has a productive college resume. Finding room to contribute on the Argonauts’ defensive line will be no simple task for him. But he does have an upside.

WR Jeremiah Haydel, 23, most recently spent time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2022 and the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. The 6’0, 170lb receiver attended Texas State (2017-2020), where throughout 44 games caught 96 passes for 1,141 yards and nine touchdowns. The Houston native also returned 54 kickoffs for a 22.1-yard average and one touchdown and fielded 16 punts for an average of 13 yards with another return touchdown. As a Senior, Haydel was named All-American by ESPN and First-Team All-Sun-Belt Punt Returner.

The Argonauts are certainly in the market for a long-term answer at kick returner. Haydel was a very productive player at Texas State. But his slow 40 time at 4.8 leading into the 2021 NFL Draft hurt his stock. Haydel looks faster on film than he times. It will be interesting to see how his skill set translates to the CFL.

Toronto Argonauts Facing Turning Point Of Their Season

What a difference a week makes.

Coming off another tough loss at home. And based on Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie’s comments in the post-game following the team’s 23-13 defeat to Ottawa. Where the second-year coach expressed disappointment with his players. There was a sense that some significant changes could be on the horizon for the Boatmen.

Today’s moves reflect Toronto tweaking their roster rather than making a dramatic change in the locker room. But that could still be in play if things go south for Double Blue.

The 3-3 East-leading Toronto Argonauts are sailing towards a potentially season-shifting quartet of games in their next five weeks against the 2-5 Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Toronto is back practicing today for their home tilt against the Ti-Cats Saturday at BMO Field.

The Argos have lost two straight games at home. Not counting the neutral site TD Atlantic victory over Saskatchewan. If you go back to the home opener, Toronto narrowly escaped with their lone victory at BMO, thanks to a shanked surefire field goal by Alouettes kicker David Cote.

Toronto is not going anywhere this season if they don’t start winning games at home. The Boatmen are in a wild stretch where they will not be leaving Ontario until October; in theory, that should benefit them. But thus far, their home cooking has been very sour.

Despite their talent level and high expectations, the Argos could see their season take a turn for the worse, especially if they falter to Hamilton the next two weeks.

There are issues with Toronto’s offensive line because of injuries at left tackle. And the offense has had trouble scoring despite moving the real well for stretches. But the primary concern after six games is that the Argonauts have shown bad team tendencies. The team has consistently been their own worst enemy, shooting themselves in the foot with unforced errors. The evidence suggests that they are not a good football team.

At one point, it appeared that the Argonauts had turned the corner, but now, the season could turn on them in a hurry.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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