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When Jim Barker was hired in February of last year to take over the Argonauts head coaching reins, nobody was sure how well it would work out. But given Barker’s success in his first year on the job, coupled with the fact that he’d had already had an eye for talent working more recently as an executive, the promotion to GM was coming.
“Jim (Barker) has done both jobs and given what he was able to accomplish in a short period of time and all of the personnel changes he made, it seemed to be a natural progression for us” said Argos President Bob Nicholson.
Former G.M. and V.P. of Football Operations Adam Rita had very little presence behind most decisions that were made this year. In previous seasons he had appeared to be more active in his role, at least when it came to speaking to the media. This left many (including myself) to believe that maybe this move was inevitably going to happen upon Rita’s contract expiring. Nicholson denied this, but did say that given Barker’s success and personnel experience, it was easier to “streamline our sources to make sure one guy is making the call on those decisions.”
So Barker is now the GM and he becomes busy right away. Today the CFL announced all of the potential free agents come February 16th.
Argos Free Agents
Adriano Belli DT NI
Shannon Boatman OT I
Jeremaine Copeland WR I
Bryan Crawford RV NI
Ronald Flemons DE I
Kevin Huntley DT I
Jeff Keeping OL NI
Chad Rempel WR Ni
Lin-J Shell DB I
Eric Taylor DL I
Barker says he will try and use as much cap room to keep as many guys as possible. Also important to note, Barker doesn’t expect to be too active adding free agents coming from other teams as he tries to continue to build from within, a concept he feels will be the key to a championship.
Cleo Lemon is expected to get surgery on his hand soon although no timetable has been set as to when that will happen. Barker says that the ligament damage in Lemon’s hand didn’t strongly affect his performance which was interesting to hear. Lemon had to get used to throwing with a glove, but if he couldn’t play, Barker wouldn’t use him. Still, I found it interesting that again it wasn’t a ringing endorsement for Lemon when Barker could have said that the injury did effect Lemon’s effectiveness.
The entire coaching staff have been tendered one-year contracts to stay on so it’s expected the staff will look the same as it did last year, unless someone gets an offer elsewhere in an elevated role.