TORONTO - If Kevin Huntley sets off a few metal detectors at airports across Canada this summer, we would love to be there to see the security people ask the 6-foot-7, 294-pound Argonauts defensive tackle to empty his pockets.
Because ridding himself of loose change won’t help.
Huntley would have been a hot target on the open market, had he decided to test it when the Canadian Football League free-agency period started at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.
Instead, Huntley signed with the Argos minutes before he could have started exploring.
And when the Argos open training camp in June, Huntley will be there, expecting to be completely healthy after two off-season shoulder surgeries and one on his knee.
In his right shoulder there now is a metal ball, essentially holding a bone in the socket. Huntley suffered a torn labrum in the shoulder during a game last season and also had to have a floating piece of bone removed.
Operations in January and earlier this month in San Francisco have, Huntley hopes, solved the problem. Doctors have told him he should be set for camp in 3 1/2 months.
“The little metal ball is in there so everything can work,” Huntley said during a telephone interview from his home in Brentwood, Calif., on Wednesday.
“Looking back at the Eastern final (which the Argos lost in Montreal), my shoulder was really bothering me. I had it wrapped, but that was cutting off circulation into my arm. So I took it off, and that bothered me just as much. I know that through the whole rehabilitation process now, the Eastern final will be in the back of my mind.
“People really don’t know the kind of pain we go through, but it’s all part of our job.”
Huntley was a CFL all-star last season despite missing a handful games with his injuries. For the second year in a row, he had a team-high nine sacks and was second among Argos defensive linemen with 41 tackles.
As such, Huntley would have been among the elite players available had he not signed through 2013 with the Argos.
There were some big names who changed teams on Wednesday, and both will have an impact on the East Division. The Montreal Alouettes convinced cornerback Dwight Anderson that life would be better with them than with the Calgary Stampeders, and the Als lost running back Avon Cobourne when he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Games between the Als and Ticats should be spicy. When Montreal signed Anderson, who is known as one of the trashiest talkers in the CFL, Cobourne had not found work. Cobourne let it fly on his twitter account, saying: “ALS let me go to free agency and the pick up D Anderson? Great team guy this guy and a guy that fights with his teammates.”
Cobourne later tweeted that he was “not bashing telling the truth.” Expect the tweets to be resurrected when the Als and Ticats meet.
The CFL’s most outstanding lineman in 2010, Ben Archibald, was expected to sign with the B.C. Lions, leaving Calgary behind.
And the Argos lost defensive lineman Eric Taylor, who signed with the Lions.
Huntley would have commanded interest, but he made it clear on Wednesday he would not have signed with another CFL team. There was hope on his part that something serious from an NFL team might have solidified, but given his injury past and a possible NFL work stoppage, it never happened.
“It was the Argos or nothing, and if not the Argos, then I probably would have sat out,” Huntley said. “The only thing that was giving me reservations was the possibility of the NFL.
“I’m an Argo, and I want to finish my career as an Argo. The hard part now will be taking the rehabilitation slowly and patiently. I’m a go-go-go kind of guy.”