Ricky deal may be close

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

There are "strong possibilities" Ricky Williams could be joining the Argos. In fact, the Miami Dolphins may give the Argos permission to negotiate a contract sometime today.

A source involved in the Williams talks told the Sun yesterday that "there seems to be strong possibilities that if everything falls into place," Williams could be playing for the Argos this year.

"He has a strong desire to play for the Argos," the source added.

The Dolphins have Williams under contract for two more years and have to give the Argos permission, but talks have progressed to the point it appears there's a breakthrough.

"We're literally waiting to hear from Miami," Argos co-owner David Cynamon said yesterday. "We're supposed to hear in the next 24 hours."

Williams is under suspension from the National Football League for the 2006 season for violating the substance abuse policy a fourth time. Suspended NFL players can play in the CFL if the team to which they are contracted allows it.

Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, talked with Miami president Bryan Wiedmeier yesterday and will do so again today.

"I expressed a desire to be able to explore the Toronto option," Steinberg said. "The Dolphins have continued to express concerns regarding injury and wear and tear. That is an on- going concern, so the process is ongoing. We are mindful that training camp is approaching (May 21). We're just trying to work through the process."

It's possible the Argos may need to get injury insurance for Williams to protect Miami's investment, a source said.

If the Dolphins give the Argos the green light, Cynamon and his partner, Howard Sokolowski, team president Keith Pelley and possibly head coach Pinball Clemons will meet with Williams to determine if the player is truly sincere about abstaining from drugs.

"If we're not 100% sold when we sit down with him, we won't do it," Cynamon said.

Steinberg said there's a misconception about Williams, who has been portrayed in some media outlets as a pothead.

"That is what he was in the summer of 2004," Steinberg said. "He hasn't been like that in a year and a half."

Steinberg wouldn't say what triggered the fourth violation.

There have been numerous stories since the Argos put Williams on their negotiation list 16 days ago that on the one hand they're portraying anti-violence and anti-bullying and on the other hand courting a player with a history of drug use.

The Argos have put a list of requirements to Steinberg that Williams must be willing to meet if the team agrees to sign him. It may include Williams shaving off his beard to set a good image. Apparently, he won't have a problem with the demands based on what Steinberg has told the Argos.

The Argos will insist Williams go to schools and speak out against drugs -- and that he mean it.

"If this guy is sincere, who better to send the message," Cynamon said. "Anyone who knows anything about football knows him. If he's sincere and stays in line, the bottom line is other than Miami saying no, this can happen."


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