Argos are Young at heart

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

On the very same week the Argos confirmed Kerry Joseph as their starting quarterback, they have more than a glancing eye on an enticing quarterback for the future.

Sun Media has learned that the Argos have placed troubled National Football League quarterback Vince Young on their secret negotiation list, a more than interesting move considering that new Argos head coach Bart Andrus last worked for the Tennessee Titans and is very familiar with Young and his troubled situation.

While it may be a reach-for-the-stars kind of move by the Argos, it is reminiscent of the old and fun days of Leo Cahill, when the club would make headlines by chasing -- and sometimes corralling -- big dreams.

How big is Young? Big enough to have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated six different times and big enough to have been chosen for the cover for the popular Madden NFL '08 video game. Covers aside, he was the NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2006 and was named one of the top 10 collegiate football players of all time.

And at a time when the Argos are fighting to be newsworthy and fighting this Toronto-NFL-Buffalo thing, the possible pursuit of Young would make for welcome chatter.

The Argos have had some marquee quarterbacks of their own, including the former most outstanding player Joseph and the record-breaking Damon Allen, and even had two championship seasons in the 1990s with Doug Flutie in charge, but rarely have they gone after anyone of Young's massive abilities and storied resume.

Young is made for the CFL. His game is all about running and improvisation and the wide field is built for quarterbacks of his talent. But the question right now is: Can he make it as an NFL quarterback?

The evidence to date is somewhat debatable.

As a rookie, Young came off the bench and proved to be gigantic, turning around the Titans' fortunes in one season and running his way to the Pro Bowl. He was unconventional but looked the part of winner. How often does that much happen for a kid just out of college?

In his second season, while he wasn't as impressive, he did lead the Titans to the playoffs. Then in Year 3, all hell broke loose.

He was injured, replaced by veteran Kerry Collins, lost his starting job, and personal circumstances began to darken his career. He disappeared after being booed by Tennessee fans and there were rumours he was suicidal. Some questioned his ability to handle the spectre of losing his starter's job. Some wondered about his mental health. His mother even spoke publicly about her troubled son.

What happened so fast for Young appeared to unravel at even greater speed.

He talked about having no fun in the NFL. He talked about worrying too much. He talked about the pressures on him. Maybe, if all doesn't work out for him in Tennessee, he should talk to Flutie about the Argos.

Flutie will tell him that playing in the CFL was the most fun he ever had on a football field. Money shouldn't be an issue. Young's initial NFL contract guaranteed him $25.7 million U.S. His salary cap hit for the 2010 NFL season is in the $14 million range, which almost guarantees he will be released following the coming season. And the coach here, assuming Andrus lasts longer than some Argo hires, is someone Young knows and maybe trusts.

By that time, Joseph will be 37 years old. Young just turned 26. If anything, the age works in the Argos favour.

The odds are, nothing will ever come of this. Maybe, Young will get back to being a fixture in the NFL. Maybe not. A whole lot of NFL minds wonder about him now.

For their part, the Argos are taking a calculated risk using one of their 35 neg-list spots for a quarterback who could light up the CFL. Somewhere, Leo Cahill must be imagining the possibilities.


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