Argos sign Crouch

Quarterback Eric Crouch worked out for the Toronto Argos on Wednesday. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

Quarterback Eric Crouch worked out for the Toronto Argos on Wednesday. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

The Eric Crouch era is about to begin with the Argos, and will likely coincide with the end of Michael Bishop's time in Toronto.

Crouch, the 2001 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of the University of Nebraska, did well enough in his workout in Oakville on Wednesday to convince the Argos to sign him. A formal announcement is expected today.

It's believed the deal will be at least two years and a club option for a third year. Speculation is he'll receive $80,000 in a base salary this season, but the deal has various incentives to drive the total package well beyond $100,000. If elevated to the full-time starter, he would likely be looking at an annual salary of at least $250,000-$300,000.

He will be positioned to eventually become the heir apparent to Damon Allen, who turns 43 this year and commences his 22nd season in the Canadian Football League and fourth with the Argos.

Allen wants to play until at least the end of the 2007 season.

When asked about Crouch, whom he helped in the workout by providing some pointers on mechanics, Allen said: "There's no question he has to work. Nothing's going to be given to him."

The 27-year-old Crouch has yearned to play quarterback at the pro level since he was drafted in the third round by St. Louis in 2002. The Rams envisioned him as a receiver/return specialist, but he quit after the first regular-season game because of a nagging ankle injury from university.

"I had 600 or 700 (career) carries at Nebraska and I was beat up," he said earlier this week. "When I came to the NFL, I needed a couple operations and I just wasn't the type of player I thought I could be."

He never had a true shot to showcase his quarterback skills thereafter in two tries with Green Bay. He played as a safety in NFL Europe last year.

"I've got a lot of rest and I've been able to heal myself up and get strong and be in great shape," he added. "I feel like my arm's stronger. So those are just things that I think are going to help me out. I really do. I don't think I've lost anything. I felt like I've gained a lot."

Crouch impressed the Argos in his workout with his arm strength, which had been the knock going against him heading into the pros. Ironically, arm strength had been the alluring asset of Bishop, who has backed up Allen the last three years but couldn't snatch the starter's job.

The Argos are expected to either trade away his rights or release him outright.

"He won't be at (training) camp," a source said.

Bishop is currently playing for Chicago in the Arena League, although he is still under contract to Toronto.

The Argos are still expected to add another quarterback, possibly in a trade with either Winnipeg or Saskatchewan. Their corps also includes sophomore Charlie Peterson.


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