Argos gamble with Damon

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

The most prolific passer in CFL history is now a free agent, but don't bet on Damon Allen leaving the Argos just yet.

Neither side seemed in a hurry to get a deal done before the league free agency period began at 12:01 a.m. today.

In other words, losing Allen is a calculated risk the team is willing to take as it prepares to go to training camp with an open competition for its starting quarterback.

Vice-president of football operations Adam Rita made it clear this week the team still hopes Allen will be one of the contestants. However, the Argos aren't ready to gamble valuable salary cap space and are willing to take the chance Allen will not be in high demand from other teams.

"We hope Damon will still be an Argonaut, but we are also looking for a player at that position to lead the team for the next several years," Rita said.

While negotiations with Allen likely are to continue --the team says there already is an offer on the table -- the Argos are expected to pursue a couple other free agents in what is generally considered a shallow talent pool.

Tops on the list, team sources say, is B.C. Lions defensive end Nautym McKay-Loescher.

The Toronto native has hinted he wants to move east, and the former Central Tech and Nebraska star brings added value with his non-import status.

The Argos also are expected to kick the tires on another Toronto native, Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Adriano Belli. The Als reportedly have made an offer to Belli, but he is likely to test the waters.

Other Argos scheduled to become free agents today are Canadian wide receiver David Azzi, who was used sparingly last year, and backup quarterback Spergon Wynn. The team has no interest in Wynn but would consider bringing Azzi back at the right price.

Overall, it could be a quiet free agency season. With the impending salary cap, many teams locked up veterans after the season because they were allowed to offer bonuses that didn't count against the cap.


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