Eiben to dive into free-agent pool

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

If he has played his last game as an Argonaut, Kevin Eiben doesn't want to think about it.

The eighth-year Argo will miss the final two games of the regular season with foot and knee injuries, and is slated to become a free agent in February when the CFL's version of the signing frenzy kicks in.

The 29-year-old linebacker has played for no CFL team other than the Argos, and both sides want to find a happy medium. But whenever free agency is involved, there's always that niggling feeling in the back of the player's mind that the grass will be greener on the other side.

"I want to see what happens with the coaches," Eiben said. "I have to see what suits me best. I love Toronto, of course I want to come back.

"You have to be patient, because you never know what is going to come next year. It's one of those seasons where the (Argos) owners are going to look at the players as well as the coaches. So you just have to sit and see. They're probably going to rebuild and that is something I have to take into consideration."

Eiben, a native of Delta, B.C., will miss a chance to see family this weekend when the Argos head to Vancouver to face the B.C. Lions on Saturday night. The Argos are done Oct. 30 when they play host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Argos general manager Adam Rita is loathe to talk about his impending free agents with games still on the docket, but acknowledged he wants Eiben, third on the team with 56 defensive tackles, in Double Blue in 2009.

UNLUCKY

"He is not that old, he has played well and he has been unlucky with injuries," Rita said. "We've been talking but we've not been able to get anything done."

Eiben will get his knee scoped, possibly as early as this weekend, and also is dealing with plantar fasciitis in a foot. His knee will be fine two weeks after the surgery.

Eiben appeared in five games as a rookie in 2001, but missed just one game over the next six seasons. All told, injuries will have caused him to miss seven in 2008 when the season is over. It's certain that his four-year run as an East Division all-star will end.

If Eiben re-signs in Toronto, he will be one of several familiar faces that stand a good chance of being back, despite a non-playoff season.

Though more changes are expected, head coach Don Matthews, who sounds like a guy who wants to come back, likes the starting front four on the defensive line.

End Jonathan Brown and tackle Adriano Belli, as well as tackle Walt Curry and end Claude Harriott, who joined the team last month, all are in Matthews' good books.

"It's an area we are proud of, with two new guys," Matthews said. "I would anticipate (the line is back intact), absolutely. But no matter who we have, we will challenge them. We will challenge every player with more players."

Cornerback Willie Middlebrooks, meanwhile, "has a chance" of returning from a neck injury to face the Lions, Matthews said.


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