Ivory still has hope

Defensive back Clifford Ivory remains optimistic that he will be back with the Boatmen this season....

Defensive back Clifford Ivory remains optimistic that he will be back with the Boatmen this season. (Toronto Sun File/Fred Thornhill)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Similar to the National Hockey League and its players association, the Argos and Clifford Ivory have reached a stalemate.

But neither side is ready to call it quits just yet.

The veteran defensive back and the team failed to come to an agreement on a new deal in advance of yesterday's start of the Canadian Football League free agency period.

"They came with an offer and it wasn't close," Ivory said.

"The bottom line is we're still in discussion," Argos player-personnel director Greg Mohns said. "I don't think we're at an impasse. He came back with a counterproposal (yesterday) that basically was rejected. At the same time, you keep things open and maybe we can reach some common ground that will enable Clifford and the Argos to make it work."

Ivory wants to be paid a salary recognizing the fact he has been named a league all-star in each of the three years he has been with the Argos since leaving Hamilton as an unheralded free agent after the 2001 season. The 29-year-old picked off 15 passes and returned four for touchdowns in his time with the Argos.

Ivory has also worked tirelessly in the community -- in particular in schools -- and received an award for it this year.

At last year's Grey Cup parade, Ivory shrugged off any suggestion he would seek free agency, proclaiming he was an "Argo for life."

"At that point in time, I was happy and everyone else was happy," he said. "You don't think that your situation is up. You're just in that moment. We all know it's a business and you have to do this. During your life you go through negotiations being an athlete. Right now, we're going through that process."

Defensive end Eric England, who also had been scheduled to become a free agent, reached a deal that is expected to be made official once it has been signed and registered with the league.

The only other notable player from last year's team who hasn't been re-signed is backup defensive lineman Chuck Walsh.

THE RIALL DEAL

Riall Johnson, whom the Argos selected in the supplemental draft last year for Canadian players who have not gone through the Canadian Football League draft, spent two productive days with the team.

Johnson was born in White Rock, B.C., but moved with his family at an early age to Seattle. He played three years with the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted him out of Stanford in 2000. He spent time last year in the training camps of Arizona and Denver.

"I just want to see what's going to happen in the NFL," he said. "I've got a couple of workouts lined up. If I don't go back in the NFL, Toronto will definitely be the place I will come."

Johnson is 6-foot-3 and weighs 250 and can play either defensive end or linebacker.


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