The Toronto Argonauts have to make final roster cuts by this Saturday at 10 pm ET after Friday Night’s preseason finale against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie says that he and his staff have figured out 75 percent of the roster decisions. And that the other 25 percent will be determined by how players play in their final exhibition game at the University of Guelph.
The Toronto Argonauts have concluded their practice sessions for Friday night’s game. They will be conducting a walkthrough on Thursday as the team preps for what will be a de facto regular-season dress rehearsal. The plan is for Toronto starters to play into the second quarter against Hamilton.
Since the Argonauts have a bye in the opening week of the 2022 CFL season, Toronto will have extra time to prepare for their home opener at BMO Field against the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday, June 16th. The delay before their season starts will aid the Argos in making up for the five days lost during the players’ strike.
But first things first, Friday’s preseason finale has plenty of intrigue because of all the new high-profile Argos acquisitions that will be making their debuts in a Double Blue uniform. But the game has even more significance for the team’s backup players, who are currently trying to get on board with the Boatmen before they set sail towards the 2022 season.
TORONTO ARGONAUTS DEPTH CHART – FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2022 VS. THE HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
The Toronto Argonauts have released their depth chart for Tomorrow night’s game. There are some projected starters missing from the lineup. CB’s Jamal Peters and Jalen Collins. RG Dariusz Bladek, and WR’s Eric Rogers, and Juwan Brescasin. The most notable name, however that will not be making his Double Blue debut is RB Andrew Harris. The team is saving him for the regular season.
Some young players who will have an opportunity to work with the #1’s, are RG Gregor MacKellar, SB AJ Richardson, and Tarvarus McFadden.
The turnaround from Friday’s game to final cuts is a quick one. Let’s look at the league’s roster rules and who might end up making the Argonauts’ regular season squad.
CFL 2022 Roster Rules
- Final roster cutdowns must occur by Saturday, June 4th at 10 pm ET.
- Teams can carry up to 45 players on their active roster. The gameday “Reserve” spot from 2021 is eliminated; clubs may use the 45th spot to dress either:
- An additional (3rd) QB OR an additional (2nd) Global
- CFL teams can have up to 15 players on their practice roster
Counting the active and practice roster, the Argos will have 60 players at their disposal when the season starts. (45 +15) But there are workarounds leading into and during the season for potentially storing more players. With CFL teams back to playing 18-game schedules, there could be quite a bit of roster shuffling, particularly on the bottom end, as the season progresses.
The Toronto Argonauts currently have 93 players listed on their roster. Three of those players are presently on the injured/suspended list. C Peter Nicastro, DB Shaq Richardson, and OL Theren Churchill (personal leave). It remains to be seen if Toronto will activate all three players to the main roster by the time the season rolls around. It’s looking likely that Peter Nicastro will start the year on the injured list.
Last week, the Double Blue pared down their roster to 75, excluding noncounters (draft picks/national rookies). However, when final roster cuts arrive, non-counter rules need not apply. Nevertheless, the league’s game ratio rule always applies when projecting CFL team rosters. Despite a new CBA agreement, any changes to the ratio will not go into effect until the 2023 season.
Of the 45 players on an active CFL regular-season roster. Here is the breakdown of the league’s game ratio rules;
- Maximum of 3 QBs (*third QB only as player #45)
- Maximum of 20 American players
- Minimum of 21 National players
- Maximum of 2 Global players (* second global only as player #45)
Of the 24 starters on a team (not counting specialists), a minimum of seven starters must be national players. When applied to a starting roster of a team, it breaks down as follows (when using the minimum number of Canadian players):
- 1 QB
- 16 American players
- 7 starting national players
With these roster rules in mind. And considering the fact that a lot can happen between Friday’s game and Saturday night. Here is a projection of what the Toronto Argonauts roster could look like when the preseason ends.
2022 Toronto Argonauts Regular Season Roster Projection
(*-denotes projected starter, A-American players, N-National, G-Global)
Toronto Argonauts Offence (23)
- Quarterbacks (2): * McLeod Bethel-Thompson (A), Chad Kelly (A)
Players who miss the cut: Antonio Simmons (A)
The Argos are living or dying with McLeod Bethel-Thompson. For the first time in his CFL career, MBT is opening a season as the clear-cut QB1. Toronto is rolling the dice that Chad Kelly will be ready to operate a CFL offence if, for whatever reason, the CFL rookie is thrust into duty. Antonio Simmons seems likely to start the year on the practice roster. But head coach Ryan Dinwiddie opened up the possibility that Toronto could be looking to add another arm to their QB room. The Argonauts might have a shortlist in mind when final roster cutdowns occur.
- Running Backs/Fullbacks (5): * Andrew Harris (N), Daniel Adebeboye (N), Javon Leake (A), Dion Pellerin (N), Declan Cross (N)
Players who miss the cut: Joe Carbone (N), Chase Arseneau (N)
The notion of keeping five total players in the backfield seems absurd. But you could even make the argument for six. Andrew Harris would touch the ball 20 plus times a game in an ideal world. But at 35 years old, that might not be a sound strategy.
AJ Ouellette could start the year on the practice roster. But cutting a player like Ouellette could be a dangerous game to play. He’s worthy of being an active roster player.
It’s challenging to determine who will be Andrew Harris’s in-season caddy. Ouellete and Adeboboye seem like natural fits as between the tackles runners behind Harris. Leake has value as a pass catcher and for his elite return skills. The Maryland standout, Javon Leake, has shown explosiveness as a runner. He could be hard to keep off the field.
The Argonauts carried multiple fullbacks on their game-day roster a year ago. Two seems like a more manageable number. Especially considering how Declan Cross and Dion Pellerin can both fill numerous roles as blockers, receivers, and on special teams. Pellerin brings added value as a runner.
- Wide Receivers/Slotbacks (8): * Brandon Banks (A), Eric Rogers (A), * DaVaris Daniels (A), * Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (N), * Juwan Brescasin (N), Dejon Brissett (N), Markeith Ambles (A), Isaiah Wright (A)
Players who miss the cut: Cam Phillips (A), Earnest Edwards (A), Tommy Neild (N), Sam Baker (N), Damon Jeanpiere (A), AJ Richardson (A), Damonte Coxie (A), Darece Roberson Jr. (A), Jamari Hester (A)
Barring a surprise release or trade, the first seven spots in Toronto’s receiving corps seem like locks to make the active roster. Banks (SB), Rogers (SB), Daniels (WR), Gittens Jr (WR)., Brescasin (SB), Brissett (WR), and Ambles (SB).
The last spot will be the most challenging to decide. It will come down to special teams’ value and perhaps ratio considerations. Isaiah Wright is the most accomplished returner in this lot. It doesn’t mean that he will make the active roster. But he has shown the ability to contribute on offence and special teams.
Based on experience, Earnest Edwards could get the nod. Several of these players are strong practice roster candidates. In any other year, the likes of Richardson and Roberson would have made the roster. Cam Phillips doesn’t have a lot of back-end roster value because he doesn’t return or cover kicks.
- Offensive Linemen (8): * C, Justin Lawrence (N), * G, Philip Blake (N), * G, Dariusz Bladek (N), * OT, Isiah Cage (A), * OT, Dejon Allen (A), G, Shane Richards (N), OT, Martez Ivey (A), G, Gregor MacKellar (N)
Players who miss the cut: G, Dylan Giffen (N), OT, Trevon Tate (A), C, Jonathan Zamora (N), G, Mojtaba Mehry (N), G, Ovatio Amorim (G), OT, Kofi Appiah (A), OT, Braydon Noll (A)
I expect Peter Nicastro and Theren Churchill to be unavailable for game #1. But if they are, that could shake up the Argos offensive line and this projection.
Versatility is always the name of the game. If needed, Philip Blake’s ability to slide over to Centre gives the Argos the option of not carrying a true backup in the middle on game day for Justin Lawrence.
Shane Richards is the team’s super-sub who is firmly entrenched at guard but can play tackle. Rookie Gregor MacKellar is penciled in at guard, but he also has experience at tackle. Dejon Allen has experience on the left side, so he could slide back there if something happened in-game to Isiah Cage. As a result, Martez Ivey can be the lone wolf on the bench at tackle.
I think Dylan Giffen could make the active roster. But he seems more likely to be on the practice roster, and Jonathan Zamora might also be headed in that direction.
Toronto Argonauts Specialists
- (3): Kicker, Boris Bede (A), Punter, John Haggerty (G), LS, Jake Reinhart (N)
At some point, Boris Bede will be recognized as a national player. The Laval University standout, two-time Vanier Cup winner and long-time CFL player has only gotten better with age. This year, the Argos are taking some of the workload off the super specialist’s plate. Thanks to the arrival of Global draft pick John Haggerty. The early returns have been magnificent for the Australian-born punter. Haggerty looks like he can be an elite special teams performer immediately. Jake Reinhart is back after missing half the season last year. The 32-year-old veteran specialist is as reliable as they come. There might be uncertainty as to who will emerge returning kicks. But this specialist group is as stellar as any in the entire CFL.
Toronto Argonauts Defence (19)
- Defensive Line (6): DE, JaGared Davis (A), DE, Shane Ray (A), DT, Shawn Oakman (A), DT, Kony Ealy (A), DE, Robbie Smith (N), DT, Sam Acheampong (N)
Players who miss the cut: DE, Adrian Tracy (A), DT, Fabion Foote (N), DL, Dewayne Hendrix (A), DE, Eli Mencer (A), DL, Benoit Marion (N), DE, Jachai Polite (A), DL, Jake Hlava (A), DT, Julian McCloud (A), DE, Alani Putuau, (A), DT, Michael Pezzuto (A), DT, Connor Flagel (A), DE, Simoen Okonta-Wariso (G)
Releasing veteran DE Adrian Tracy seems like a reach. But this could be the end of the road for him.
Second-round pick Deionte Knight is dealing with an undisclosed lower-body injury, and he could start the season on the injured list. I expect him on the main roster as a rotational backup if he is healthy.
Fabion Foote and Dewayne Hendrix could sneak onto the active squad. But the numbers game could push them to the practice roster to start the season.
- Linebackers (5): MLB, Henoc Muamba (N), WLB, Wynton McManis (A), LB, Trevor Hoyte (N), LB, Jack Cassar (N), LB, Brandon Calver (N)
Players who miss the cut: LB, Jonathan Jones (A), LB, Tony Jones (A), Daniel Kwamou (N), LB, Enoch Penny-Laurea (N)
Sam Linebacker Chris Edwards, who is really an extension of the secondary, will begin the season serving a league suspension. He is currently slated to miss six games. But perhaps that can be reduced at some point. The Argos’ depth, specifically at Will linebacker, is shaky, and Toronto doesn’t have the luxury it had a year ago when they had the now-retired Dexter McCoil.
Wynton McManis might be an essential player on Corey Mace’s defensive unit. Because of the new hash mark rules, the weakside linebacker has taken on added importance. You need someone at that spot who can cover a ton of space. McManis fits that bill perfectly. There’s a reason the entire Argonauts brain trust did a full-court press to bring him on board in the offseason. But the Argos don’t have anyone proven behind him. Toronto should look closely at the waiver wire for WLBs, or south of the border for a McManis-like player.
Henoc Muamba is also vital. Trevor Hoyte and Jack Cassar back him up, and those two players need to take the next step as pros. Brandon Calver makes this roster by default, and his experience and special teams value could give him the edge. But I would write his name in pencil.
- Defensive Backs (8): CB, Jalen Collins (A), CB, Jamal Peters (A), S, Royce Metchie (N), HB, DaShaun Amos (A), HB, DeAngelo Amos (A), DB, Robertson Daniel (A), DB, Tarvarus McFadden (A), S, Josh Hagerty (N)
Players who miss the cut: DB, Matthew Boateng (N), DB, Maurice Carnell IV (A), DB, Robert Priester (A), DB, Eric Sutton (N), DB, Deion Harris (A), DB, Tigie Sankoh (G), DB, Caleb Holden (A)
Shaq Richardson’s return to the lineup will take up a roster spot, perhaps from someone in the secondary. There’s plenty of time between now and week two for Richardson to be ready for the opening game. If he is, Richardson will be an important piece to the lineup.
The Argos secondary is a difficult position to crack. Starters from a season ago like Treston Decoud, Crezdon Butler, and Jeff Richards are gone. Royce Metchie and Dashaun Amos will be critical figures on Toronto’s defence.
Robertson Daniel could play a vital role as the team’s SAM in place of the magnificent Chris Edwards. It won’t be easy replacing him.
Toronto Argonauts Practice Roster Projection (15)
QB: Austin Simmons, RB: AJ Ouellette, FB: Chase Arseneau, WR: AJ Richardson, WR: Tommy Nield, WR: Sam Baker, OL: Dylan Giffen, OL: Braydon Noll, DL: Dewayne Hendrix, DL: Fabian Foote, LB: Enoch Penney-Laryea, LB: Daniel Kwamou, DB: Eric Sutton, DB: Maurice Carnell IV, DB: Tigie Sankoh
Some players will make the Argonauts’ practice squad because of draft status. You could argue that it would be wise to keep a kicker on this roster for insurance. But the Argos need to load up on as many players as they can at specific positions.
There could be a fair amount of turnover with this unit all season long. Tigie Sankoh could be a regular #45 on game day, replacing an active roster player who goes on the injured/inactive list.
It will be interesting to see if Toronto adds a veteran QB at some point. But something tells me that the Boatmen will ride this Chad Kelly wave out for the entire season.
Toronto should be looking at any available veteran SAM or WILL players that become available. The team needs to safeguard themselves, specifically at weakside linebacker, and it will be one of the more important positions in the CFL moving forward.
Overall this is one of the most talented Argos rosters the team has fielded in years. Especially when it comes to front-line starters. The flaws on the roster are minimal. But there are some concerns in terms of depth, and the team needs to stay healthier than they did a year ago when they were tops in the CFL in injured players.