Saturday, 3 December 2011

Toronto's Moves and their Tiger-Cat Implications

The CFL off-season is not even a week old and the Toronto Argonauts have made three key moves to position themselves for 2012. Those moves also have some rather large implications for the Tiger-Cats as well.

The Argos hired former Montreal Alouettes Offensive Coordinator Scott Milanovich to be the team's new Head Coach. Milanovich takes over from Jim Barker, who was the Head Coach the last two seasons, so Barker can concentrate solely on being the team's General Manager.

Along with Milanovich comes Calgary Defensive Coordinator Chris Jones. Jones had been with the Stamps since 2008. His hiring in Toronto isn't official, and there seems to be a lot of back and forth between the Argos and Stamps. The Argos are saying they haven't hired Jones, while the Stamps filed a tampering complaint with the league over the issue and the league fined the Argos $5,000 for it.

The last bit of Argos news is that they have signed Quarterback Steven Jyles a two-year contract extension worth a reported $250,000 per season. The Argos traded for Jyles back in March and he took over as starter after the team cut Cleo Lemon in September.

These three moves have some implications for the Ti-Cats.

For starters, it means that both Milanovich and Jones are not going to be coaching the Tiger-Cats. This is not surprising since these moves were known before Ti-Cats fired Marcel Bellefeuille, so it is unlikely that either coach was on any list the Tiger-Cats came up with.

But the Jones hiring could have a ripple effect. With Jones now (or soon to be) the Argos Defensive Coordinator, that means that Orlondo Steinauer, who was Toronto's Defensive Coordinator for the last half of the 2011 season after the Argos fired Chip Garber, will not be. Steinauer could go back to being the team's Defensive Backs Coach (the position he held prior to his promotion) or he could look to move to another team and be their Defensive Coordinator. That team could be Hamilton if Corey Chamblin gets the Head Coaching job in Saskatchewan or Hamilton. That is a lot of moving parts, but it can't be dismissed that Steinauer could be the next Defensive Coordinator in Hamilton. And if Mike O'Shea becomes Head Coach, all bets are off.

The Jyles extension is juicier because it all but guarantees that Henry Burris will not be going to Toronto. The Argos are not going to pay two Quarterbacks a combined $500,000-600,000 – it is doubtful that Burris would go to the Argos for less than what Jyles is being paid – so Burris landing in Hogtown is highly unlikely. The speculation now is that Hamilton is the front runner to land Burris's services. Whether that's a good idea or not is for another time, but expect to see the Burris-to-Hamilton rumours get more intense.

Just a few days in and this CFL off-season looks like it might be one of the most interesting ones in recent memory.

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