Off-season to-do list

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

The team that plays together -- and wins the Grey Cup -- doesn't necessarily stay together.

The reality of the Argos' win in the 2004 Grey Cup on Sunday in Ottawa is that it cold be the last time some of the coaches and players will be together.

It's believed the Edmonton Eskimos will be seeking permission to talk to Argos defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler about their vacant head-coaching job.

Stubler wants to become a head coach and told the Toronto Sun this month that the only two teams he would consider working for are the Argos and the Eskimos. Stubler helps the Argos with special teams, too.

Argos coach Pinball Clemons -- when asked about it leading up to the CFL East final -- did not want to address the possibility of losing Stubler other than to say he would try to do everything to keep his assistant. Stubler has worked on and off with the team in an assistant and/or associate role since 2001 and is well-regarded by the players.

As for the players, the noteworthy free agents are quarterback Damon Allen, linebacker Kevin Eiben, defensive end Eric England, offensive tackle John Feugill, defensive backs Chuck Wheaton and Clifford Ivory and cornerback Adrion Smith.

"Not at all costs, but we would certainly like to keep our free agents," club president Keith Pelley said yesterday.

"One of the biggest challenges is to keep a team together (after winning a title)," Argos linebacker Mike O'Shea said.

"You have a championship team in any professional sport these days and free agency can take its toll on you. It's going to be a real challenge for the general manager."

Pelley would not specifically comment on any players, but there's a belief that if Allen wants to return next year he will be granted that opportunity out of respect.

The Argos also have former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch on their negotiation list along with Miami graduate Scott Covington, who spent time with Cincinnati and St. Louis of the NFL since graduating in 1999. He worked out for the Argos this year.

There remains speculation that if former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray, now a third-stringer with the New York Jets, becomes available, the Argos will enter into the bidding.

There also is speculation the Argos will rework the contract of running back John Avery, who was signed at $250,000 a season, the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league.

Avery battled knee problems all season, but did well running and receiving in the Cup while playing through a groin problem.

"For 18 weeks I've been taking shots to numb certain pains in my body and when you've got to take medication to practice, people don't understand that and I don't make any excuses," he said.

"I put the uniform on (and) I'll take the criticism. I don't have a problem doing that.

"What you can look forward to is the off-season, when you get stronger and healthier and come back next year and we'll see if I appreciate from what you saw this year."


Photos