Argos eyeing a few free agents

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Free agency won't fix the Argonauts, a fact that is not lost on general manager Adam Rita.

Though the Argos had their sights on a few players when free agents became available at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday morning -- possibly cornerback Byron Parker, an offensive lineman and a receiver -- the holes on offence are too big to be filled with a couple of signings.

And with a fairly shallow group of free agents, Rita and his staff might have to get inventive.

"We have to get production out of the quarterback position, and know the quarterback can raise the play of everybody else," Rita said on Monday. "We want more out of everybody on offence. We need to find some receivers who will make big plays for us."

Quarterback Steven Jyles, the lone man at his spot available, would not be much of an answer. Rita hasn't decided the future of Kerry Joseph, who has had back-to-back dismal seasons in Double Blue.

It's worth noting the B.C. Lions have five quarterbacks on their roster who have varying depths of experience, from Casey Printers to Travis Lulay. Maybe Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon will have to put his investigative skills to use sooner than expected if David Braley's Lions and Argos come to the league office with a trade proposal.

The Argos were working to re-sign return specialist Dominique Dorsey and late Monday night locked up their two non-import potential free agents, linebacker Ray Fontaine and receiver Obed Cetoute.

But they were not close with running back Jamal Robertson, one of seven men in the CFL to rush for 1,000-plus yards in 2009, and said goodbye to defensive end Jonathan Brown.

"We've moved on," Rita said. "He was fantastic for us, a good guy, but we have Claude (Harriott) and Ronald (Flemons) under contract and we like them. I'm sure J.B. will get a contract somewhere."

Brown was a stalwart for the Argos for five years before missing half of last season with a back injury.

Parker, who wants to return to southern Ontario and would play for either the Argos or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, might be a fit. Consider that the Boatmen, under new head coach Jim Barker, plan to make a full shift to man-to-man coverage from zone defence. At his introductory news conference last week, Barker said he wants his team to be more aggressive, and that style is Parker's bread and butter. When the Argos released cornerback Jordan Younger last week, it appeared to be another sign that Parker could be on their wish list.

If not the Argos, Robertson might interest the B.C. Lions, who lost their 1,000-yard rusher when Martell Mallett signed with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in January. Brown could catch the Lions' eye as well.

Of those who gained more than 1,000 yards on the ground last year, Robertson's average carry of 4.9 yards was the lowest.

The Argos have eight free agents -- Brown, Willie Middlebrooks, Will Poole and Jason Shivers on defence and Dorsey, Robertson, Reggie McNeal and P.K. Sam on offence. Shivers and Poole probably will not return, while Middlebrooks, McNeal and Sam stand a better chance.

"We believe we have a lot of pieces here," Rita said. "We're not going after a lot of people. I don't see a big puzzle piece on the radar."

Rita was not surprised that kicker/punter Justin Medlock signed with the Washington Redskins. The Argos will turn to Eddie Johnson, and are thought to have no interest in Sandro DeAngelis, who is leaving the Calgary Stampeders.

Also, the CFL announced on Monday that the 2010 Canadian draft will be on May 2. Main training camps will open on June 6.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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