Argos sign Copeland to extension

Jermaine Copeland is all smiles  at the presser at Argos head office. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

Jermaine Copeland is all smiles at the presser at Argos head office. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

TORONTO - Jeremaine Copeland has no intention of ever signing another Canadian Football League contract as a player.

The Toronto Argonauts offensive team captain told reporters on Monday that the three-year extension to his current deal that was finalized over the past weekend will draw the curtain on his 10-year CFL career.

“Truthfully I think this will be my last contract,” Copeland said. “It’s three years, I’ll be 37 (at the end of it).”

One of the factors the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Copeland took into consideration was the stark reality he faced last season that an injury could take him out at anytime.

It was his first taste of an injury — to his elbow — serious enough to cost him five starts at his wide receiver position.

“After being injured last year I know what this game ... can do to you,” Copeland said. “A career-ending injury is always right there. You never know when your last game is.

“You just want to play this game for as long as you can as fast as you can and have fun while you are doing it.”

In spite of his lost time, Copeland still managed 639 passing yards on 48 catches and three receiving touchdowns in his first season with the Boatmen.

That Copeland is actively thinking about a future after his playing days does not mean, however, that he is any less committed to leading the Argos to Grey Cup glory.

And last season’s humiliating 48-17 loss to the Montreal Alouettes in the Eastern Conference final is all the motivation he needs going into his final three CFL seasons.

“That (result) made me a lot more hungry,” Copeland said. “That was a bad taste to have in your mouth whenever you get beat like that.

“We felt like we didn’t even show up. The bad thing is that we pushed and clawed all year long digging that tunnel trying to get to the light. We ended up coming up short in a bad way.

“If we would have competed and at least given them a game, I think the taste wouldn’t be so bad.”

Copeland also refused to lay the blame for that loss — as many have done — at the feet of rookie quarterback Cleo Lemon.

“Cleo came in as a rookie and he took us to the Eastern final,” he said. “I don’t know too many quarterbacks who have come into this league and done that.”

In spite of that loss Copeland said he is convinced that the team is on the cusp of ousting Montreal as the CFL’s best squad.

“We have the building blocks in place. I believe this is our year. Now we are contenders,” Copeland said. “I believe that Argos can be the next dominant team. I have three years here and I expect to win one, maybe two, championships in that time.”

Copeland’s decision not to test the free-agent market, he said, was firmly based on his relationship with Argo head coach Jim Barker, with whom he has had as a coach at each — Montreal, Calgary and Toronto — of his CFL stops.

“He has always been my favourite coach,” he said. “He’s really like a father to me. He’s cool, clam and collected but if you piss him off he can bite your head off.”

Copeland said he thought about what he and Barker had brought to the Argonauts last season after a 2009 season that was one of the worst in team history.

“I thought about how we turned the whole thing around,” he said. “Now I want to help build on that for next season.”

So what’s next for Copeland after his current contract ends?

“I hope and pray I can make it three more years without injuries,” he said. “I would rather walk away from the game on my own terms.

“But for what I want to do, I’ll probably be walking into coaching.”


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