Argos sever ties with England

ROB LONGLEY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 12:46 PM ET

In his three years as an Argo, Eric England was adept at running down opposing quarterbacks.

Yesterday, the veteran defensive end was the sack victim, one of six Argos released in a roster cleanout.

Given the players involved, it is clear the team is anxious to get younger as it retrofits to adhere to the CFL's new salary cap system.

"It is a combination of age, cost and time to move on," Argos vice-president of football operations Adam Rita said.

"In some cases, they were guys who were injured a lot. In some cases we think we can find younger guys."

Joining England on the chopping block were linebackers Antonius Bonner and Jeff Kelly, receivers Shockmain Davis and R. Jay Soward and offensive tackle Jerome Davis.

The most surprising move in terms of profile was England, an emotional leader of the Argos' stout defence.

But with promise shown by non-import Riall Johnson, perhaps Rita believes England won't be so difficult to replace.

Bonner, who was slowed by a knee injury much of this past season, was the second-longest serving Argo on the roster, winning two Grey Cups in his decade with the team.

"(Cutting) England and Bonner was tough because they played a lot of football for us and won some Grey Cups," Rita said. "But the one sure thing in this business is that sooner or later those times end."

Especially if you were among the Argos' senior citizens.

England is the oldest at 35, followed by Bonner (34) and Jerome Davis (32), an East Division all-star this season.

Kelly, a backup linebacker to begin with, spent much of the season nursing a leg injury.

Giving up on the project that was R. Jay Soward was another difficult move for Rita.

The GM saw potential for a star receiver in the former NFL first-rounder, but Soward proved to be an unreliable target with bad hands.

Rita said the off-season business isn't done yet, as the team works toward meeting the league-imposed $4.05-million cap for 2007.

Near the top of that list is determining the future of another aging veteran scheduled to be a free agent in February.

"We'll continue to talk," Rita said of the team's 43-year-old starting quarterback, Damon Allen.


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