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PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

The owners of the Argos insist they haven't blown their bankroll to re-sign some of their top players.

David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski responded yesterday to any critics who may claim the Argos are spending lavishly on their own players rather than lose them to free agency.

"All I know is when I saw the reports (yesterday) of the free agents being signed by Calgary and Ottawa, I know what the other teams are paying," Cynamon said.

While other teams were making free-agent news, the Argos formally announced the re-signing of linebacker Kevin Eiben to a long-term deal. In addition, receivers Arland Bruce and Tony Miles and return specialist Bashir Levingston, all of whom were entering their option years, had their deals extended.

"This team does not have even the highest salary base in the league, let alone the highest salary," Cynamon said. "Everybody is around our number. It's just excuses (by other teams). We didn't buy this team (with a bunch of high-priced players). We have one contract that was too high and we're going to fix it."

Cynamon was referring to the four-year, $1-million deal given last year to running back John Avery, who was the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. Cynamon expects the restructured deal to be finalized within two days at the latest.

"After that we're at the same base as everybody else," Cynamon said. "Some of these free agents are getting signed for numbers that are going to offend some our stars."

UNDER CONTRACT

Sokolowski and Cynamon said they are hoping to keep their players under contract rather than lose them to free agency.

"What David and I heard a lot from fans when we came on board (last year) is 'keep all your guys. We get to know them. We get to like them and then they're gone,' " Sokolowski said. "It seems to have been either an Argo tradition in some ways or a CFL tradition. We think differently. We want to retain as many of our free agents. Fans certainly relate to guys who they know as opposed to newcomers."

The team is still hoping to re-sign defensive back Clifford Ivory.

"We want him and I'm optimistic we're going be able to get things straightened out," Cynamon said.


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