What's Buzzing:

55 Yard Line

Ricky Foley signs with Saskatchewan, increasing the Argonauts’ defensive line losses

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

View photo

.

Ricky Foley (95) is taking his defensive line talents to Regina.

Life isn't easy when you're the defending champions, and the Toronto Argonauts are sure finding that out this year. After winning the 2012 Grey Cup thanks largely to the superlative effort of their defensive line,  the Argos appear to have likely lost all four of their DL starters (plus primary backup Ejiro Kuale) from that game. The latest blow came Monday thanks to Dave Naylor's confirmation that Canadian defensive end Ricky Foley has signed with Saskatchewan, and that blow may prove to be the most significant.

Foley wasn't the most statistically dominant member of that defensive line (that would likely be defensive tackle Armond Armstead, who had a team-high six sacks and a DL-high 43 tackles), but he may prove to be the toughest to replace. That's largely thanks to his Canadian passport. As a non-import defensive end, Foley was a Canadian playing a position traditionally reserved for Americans, and that gave the Argonauts the ability to use extra imports elsewhere. He did so very effectively, too, recording 35 tackles and three sacks during the year and dominating during the Grey Cup, where he recorded a sack and four tackles and was named the most valuable Canadian.

Of course, production comes at a cost: Foley was making approximately $150,000 a year in 2011 and likely earned similar numbers last season, and that's cash that's not easy to find in a league with such a tight salary cap. Thus, the Riders may have offered Foley more than the Argonauts could afford to match, even with a possible hometown discount (Foley is from nearby Courtice, Ontario, and much of his family lives locally). Still, Saskatchewan's landed an often-dominant ratio-busting Canadian who's just 30, which seems like a solid move for them (especially considering that their pass rush hasn't been the greatest recently), and Toronto now has to find yet another replacement on the defensive line.

It's remarkable just how much defensive line attrition the Argonauts have seen. Their four starters in the Grey Cup were Foley, Armstead, Adriano Belli and Ronald Flemons, and it's quite possible none of them will wear the double blue in 2013. Foley's signed with Saskatchewan, while Armstead is headed to the NFL with the New England Patriots. If Armstead gets cut, he could return to the Argonauts, but that isn't a certainty; see what Foley did in 2010 after being cut by the New York Jets. Meanwhile, Belli has retired (again, and after breaking the Grey Cup, to boot!), and Flemons remains a free agent following his January release. Even Kuale, one of the team's top backups who often starred in rotational packages, has left. There certainly won't be a lot of continuity on the Argonauts' defensive line this year.

That doesn't mean that Toronto's doomed, of course. Newly-extended general manager Jim Barker has an excellent eye for talent, and he may well be able to find capable replacements. Solid pass rushers are constantly in demand across the CFL, though, so it won't be an easy task. It's likely going to be especially tough to replace Foley and Belli; while some talented Canadian pass rushers are available in the draft every year, it often takes a couple of years to develop draftees into starters. At first glimpse, there aren't many proven Canadian DL veterans available right now, which may cause the Argonauts to drastically change their approach to fulfilling the CFL's mandated seven non-import starters. Foley's signing in Saskatchewan seems like an excellent opportunity for him and a gain for the Riders, but he'll leave a substantial void to fill in Toronto.

View Comments (5)
  • Carmelo Anthony gathers athletes, cops, kids in conversation

    Carmelo Anthony gathers athletes, cops, kids in conversation

    Carmelo Anthony spent the U.S. Olympic basketball team's precious day off running a two-hour town hall meeting at a South Los Angeles youth center because he can't sleep anymore. With only a few spare hours Monday before jetting off to continue the … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 minutes ago
  • Jones carries Orioles to 3-2 win over Rockies in 10 innings

    Jones carries Orioles to 3-2 win over Rockies in 10 innings

    BALTIMORE (AP) -- Adam Jones scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a low throw to the plate by pitcher Jordan Lyles, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory. … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 minutes ago
  • Phils' Hellickson dominates Miami again

    Phils' Hellickson dominates Miami again

    Jeremy Hellickson dominated the Marlins for a second straight start, throwing six innings of one-hit ball to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat Miami 4-0 on Monday night. Tommy Joseph hit a two-out RBI double in the top of the eighth to break a … More »

    AP - Sports - 13 minutes ago
  • Kvitova beats Linette, Stosur tops Watson at rain-soaked Rogers Cup

    Petra Kvitova is one step closer to another Rogers Cup championship. The Czech native, who won the Canadian tournament back in 2012, cruised to a first-round win over Magda Linette of Poland 6-1, 6-2 on Monday night. Kvitova overpowered her … More »

    The Canadian Press - 18 minutes ago
  • Woman shares her sexual assault story with Baylor players

    A woman who said she was raped by two Oregon State football players and two other men in 1998 has shared her story with the Baylor football team. Brenda Tracy spoke to the Bears on Monday, two months after a 13-page report said Baylor failed to … More »

    AP - Sports - 18 minutes ago