Argos have work to do

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

After proclaiming last year that all their key players were back, the Argos might lose some of them this year.

The free-agency market commences tonight at midnight and as of yesterday the Argos had three notable players still unsigned: Offensive lineman Jude St. John and linebackers Antonious Bonner and Ray Mariuz. Linebacker Mike O'Shea has verbally agreed to a deal, but hasn't signed it because he's figuring out some details, according to general manager Adam Rita.

Rita isn't sure whether the trio will re-sign before the deadline or try the open market.

"They all have an offer," he said. "It's up to them right now what they're going to do."

St. John has been with the team since 1998 and has consistently manned the left guard spot and occasionally tackle. Because he has proven himself as a starting Canadian, he'll have value on the market if he wants relocate.

Bonner has been an Argo since 1997, alternating between defensive back and linebacker. His versatility was missed last year when he suffered a knee injury during the season and required major reconstructive surgery.

Mariuz has played three seasons for the Argos and has filled in as a starting linebacker for some games last year during Bonner's injury.

Independent of re-signing their own players, the Argos will bid for players in the free-agency market.

Teams can't publicly reveal any players in whom they are interested in until the free-agent market starts because it would be considered tampering, but it's no secret the Argos plan to engage in the bidding war for B.C. middle linebacker Barrin Simpson. He might command one of the biggest salaries for a defensive player.


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