Argonauts sign a QB!

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Well, he might not become the starter, but it's a start.

Dalton Bell represents something the Argonauts lacked for a couple of weeks after they held a mass releasing of Kerry Joseph, Cody Pickett and Stephen Reaves -- a living, breathing quarterback.

And Argos head coach Jim Barker didn't send a fifth-round pick in the 2010 Canadian Football League Canadian draft to the Saskatchewan Roughriders (a pick acquired from the Riders last year in exchange for offensive tackle Cliff Washburn) just so he could cut Bell in training camp.

"He's a guy who we think has the physical tools to run our offence," Barker said. "He will determine (where he winds up on the depth chart).

"The No. 1 thing I like about him is his leadership. He'll do whatever it takes to win a game."

The addition of Bell brings the still-fuzzy Argos quarterback picture somewhat into focus. Barker intends to have as many as eight candidates in for auditions before he signs anyone, but will not anoint a starter until training camp breaks in June.

Gibran Hamdan, formerly of the Buffalo Bills and several other National Football League teams, is high on the Argos' list.

"Gibran is a guy we like a lot but we aren't at that point yet (where the Argos would sign him)," Barker said.

Buck Pierce, released by the B.C. Lions on Tuesday, does not interest the Argos.

Bell was on the active roster but did not take a snap last season with the Roughriders, and had brief stints with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers after a fine college career at West Texas A & M. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder, who turned 27 on Tuesday, threw for 7,841 yards and 63 touchdowns, completing 699 of 1,044 pass attempts (66.9%).

Bell, speaking from Dallas, wants nothing more than the challenge of showing Barker and offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elizondo he can be a useful part. Part of the lure for Bell is that Barker is open to anything. Bell's mobility is decent at best, but he has a strong arm and is accurate.

"I know some people can get a little impatient, but you just have to keep pounding the rock," Bell said. "What matters is getting an opportunity, and hopefully I will get that in Toronto.

"It's nice that everyone will be starting from the same spot. It's a different situation from any that I have been in. It's refreshing, and I am looking forward to it."

By the time the CFL draft rolls around on May 2, Barker wants to have his quarterbacks under contract.

Barker is open to seeing what the Canadian quarterbacks have to offer at the CFL evaluation camp this weekend in Toronto.

Two natives of the Greater Toronto Area -- Burlington's Danny Brannagan, who played at Queen's, and Pickering's Erik Glavic, who took his talents to Calgary -- will put themselves up for debate among CFL front-office types. Guelph's Justin Dunk also will attend, but another QB, Michael Faulds of Western Ontario, will be absent because of a knee injury.

CFL clubs are able to carry Canadian-born quarterbacks without using a roster spot.

"I'm anxious to watch these three kids at the combine," Barker said. "They've all shown they have the skills sets you need to play well in university, but do they have the same skills to be competitive in the CFL? I want to see what they can do."

In getting Bell from the Roughriders, Barker stuck to his word. He didn't mortgage the future of the franchise for an unproven player, something he would have done had he parted with a pick in the first or second round. If Bell doesn't work out, it's unlikely the pick that Saskatchewan gets will haunt the Argos down the road.

Bell might not be the guy under centre for the season-opening snap in Calgary on July 1, but if nothing else, the Argos have taken a small step toward solidifying their most important position.


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