Arland Bruce and the Argos have entered into a long-term relationship.
Bruce, who joined the Argos midway through last season as a free agent and emerged as one of the team's key playmakers on offence and special teams, has agreed to a contract extension through the 2007 season.
The 27-year-old Kansas native had been scheduled this season to enter into the option year of his contract and had explored National Football League opportunities in tryouts with Miami, Detroit and Tampa. While the Lions were willing to offer him a contract, he didn't feel it offered security. A signing bonus, which indicates a team's degree of interest, never entered into discussions.
After previous stints with Kansas City, where he was a training camp cut in 2000, followed by two seasons in the Canadian Football League with Winnipeg and then a season and a half with the San Francisco 49ers in mostly a special teams role, Bruce decided Toronto offered the chance to be a full-time starting receiver and also do some return work.
"It's just a decision I had to make and I think I made the right decision going back to Toronto," he said yesterday.
Bruce starred for the Argos last year in the Eastern final against the Montreal Alouettes, catching 12 passes, including one for a touchdown, and scored a pivotal touchdown on a kickoff return. He finished second overall among receivers in the playoffs with 22 catches for 228 yards and second in combined yards.
While terms of his contract were not disclosed last year when he signed, it was believed Bruce received a pro-rated salary of $142,000 a season, or roughly $8,000 a game.
Bruce's manager Bill Thies said the Argos wanted to go long term with his client because they liked his on-field performance and attitude.
"They were so excited about the job he did and his work ethic that they wanted to reward him with a longer deal," Thies said.
"It's a win-win situation. I'm just so thrilled to see in this day and age they've rewarded a guy for his commitment."
Bruce's deal comes at a time when the Argos are trying to sign as many of their players before the free-agency period commences Feb. 16. The noteworthy players scheduled to hit the open market are quarterback Damon Allen, linebacker Kevin Eiben, cornerback Adrion Smith, defensive end Eric England, defensive backs Kenny Wheaton and Clifford Ivory and offensive lineman Mike Mihelic.
DEALING WITH AVERY
Argos vice-president of football operations Adam Rita already has stated the team does not expect to re-sign all of its players due to cost constraints.
In addition, there is still the ongoing situation with feature running back John Avery, who has been asked by the club to take a 50% pay cut on his salary of $250,000 a season. It's believed that situation is going to come to a head soon.