It looks like the Christmas present the Toronto Argonauts gave wide receiver Dontrelle Inman was a nice one. The Argos released Inman on Christmas Eve, giving him the chance to try out with NFL teams before he officially hit free agency in February, and according to Sportsnet's Arash Madani, he's now signed with the San Diego Chargers. From Madani's piece:
It didn’t take long for Dontrelle Inman to find a new home.
The former Toronto receiver, released by the Argos officially on Christmas eve to allow him to pursue NFL opportunities, has signed a futures contract with the San Diego Chargers, sources told Sportsnet.
The Chargers, getting set for the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game, will not have Inman’s services for the remainder of the post-season because of the nature of the deal. CFL sources indicated Inman received a signing bonus from San Diego, which will give him a decent shot at auditioning for the NFL club, and not just being a camp body.
This could be a big move for Inman. He turns 25 later this month, so he's still quite young, and he's impressed as a receiver at the CFL level over the past two years. In 2012, he caught 50 balls for 803 yards (a remarkable average of 16.1 yards per catch) and five touchdowns and helped the Argonauts win the 100th Grey Cup. This year, he again hauled in 50 receptions for 739 yards and six touchdowns. He's even shown off some surprising versatility, filling in as a punter when Swayze Waters got hurt this year and there wasn't a backup on the roster. Inman also had an impressive college career with the NCAA's Virginia Cavaliers, with a solid senior year in particular: he caught 51 passes for 815 yards in 2010. He wasn't chosen in the 2011 NFL Draft, but had a brief stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent before coming to the CFL. He'll be hoping to make this second go-round in the NFL last a little longer, and the signing bonus is good news on that front. So is the recent success of many CFL players who have gone to the NFL, including the Dolphins' Cameron Wake, the Colts' Jerrell Freeman and the Bengals' Andrew Hawkins.
As remarked upon earlier, the Argonauts' release of Inman (and previous moves along those lines, such as releasing all-star defensive tackle Armond Armstead after just one year so he could go to the NFL) stands in stark contrast to their Southern Ontario rivals in Hamilton, who fought long and hard this year to keep Chris Williams before eventually settling and letting him sign with the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The philosophies of holding on to players at all costs or letting them go early both have their advantages (the former may give you negotiation edges, but the latter can boost your club's reputation as a destination for those who have NFL dreams and can make a return more likely if the NFL doesn't pan out), and both have their adherents in the CFL. The Inman move shows that the Argonauts remain committed to letting players pursue NFL dreams when it works for them; we'll see if that pays off for the team in the long run.