Argos finally net Morley

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun MEdia

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Steve Morley was being as stubborn as a bad-tempered muskie at fry time.

There were times when Argonauts' player personnel director Greg Mohns wondered if he'd ever land him.

"It took a while but we got him," Mohns said, on a giddy afternoon in Argoland as the team announced it had signed the former No. 1 overall CFL draft pick.

All it took was nine months, a phone bill only Ma Bell could love and lowered expectations from Morley, who weighs in at 330 pounds -- and that's without his wallet.

Morley has been used to NFL-type money after spending three years in flirtatious relationships with the New York Jets and Green Bay. "The numbers they were looking at were unrealistic," Mohns said. "It took a while for the process to take its course."

Morley sounded like he was happy to play football again instead of just watching it. Even if the seat he was watching it from was next to Brett Favre.

"For me, it's a homecoming and I think the Argos will have an offence designed for the offensive line to excel."

If there's one place the Argos needed improvement from last year it was on the offensive line.

"We've been trying to upgrade the O-line for a couple of years," Mohns said.

Adding Morley is the latest, perhaps most critical, move in that direction. Picked No. 1 by Calgary in 2003, Morley came out of St. Mary's projected as star material and played 11 games at left tackle. Then, the NFL turned his head.

"I thought I'd probably spend my whole career in the CFL. But Green Bay offered ... a pile of money up front that I couldn't turn down and there was a chance to play with Brett Favre," Morley said by phone, as he waited to board a flight in Atlanta, where he lives with his girlfriend. "I always watched the Packers on TV. It was 'Wow, I'm playing with Brett Favre.' "

Well, sort of. He played in one game in 2004. The next year he was assigned to Rheign of NFL Europa and then traded to the Jets where he was cut prior to the 2006 season. "It took a while to get acclimated to the American game and maybe they got tired of me," he said.

Last September the Argos brought him in to visit.

"We felt we had some good things going when we invited him. It was up to him to decide if he wanted to get a CFL career going," Mohns said. "At some time he had to make a decision if he wanted to become an everyday player in this league or be a bubble guy in the NFL."

After getting blown off in tryouts with, among others Seattle, Morley decided that time had come. "I didn't want to keep jumping for one team to another looking for opportunities. I don't want to keep waiting and waiting.

"Besides, the world revolves around Toronto." And, won't the folks in Calgary, love hearing that? Morley chuckles at the thought.

Morley's presence could mean a high-profile Argo will be chopped to remain under the $4.05-million salary cap. Morley is believed, although it is unconfirmed, to have signed in the $125,000 area.

The move gives the Argos a surplus of talent at a position where they were vulnerable last season. With Jude St. John, Chad Folk and Taylor Robertson they can start four Canadians -- giving them the luxury to add an American at a skill position. Morley's signing puts the playing time of Americans Dave Costa and/or Mike Pearson in question. Then there's Glenn January, who probably deserves to play. He showed up at camp when the Argos thought he'd pick the NFL.

"We're going to have to make tough decisions on good players but it's better than saying: 'Hey, Adam (general manager Adam Rita) we've got to find someone!' We've got younger, bigger, stronger."


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