Argonauts preview: Key additions/subtractions, players to watch, biggest storylines of 2023 season
Coach: Ryan Dinwiddie
GM: Michael 'Pinball' Clemons
2022 Record: 11-7; won the 109th Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Opening game: June 18 vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Entering the 2023 season as the defending Grey Cup champions, all eyes are on quarterback Chad Kelly and the Toronto Argonauts' offence.
The second-year pivot takes over first-team duties after four-year starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson departed the Canadian Football League to play closer to home as a member of the United States Football League's New Orleans Breakers.
After being named the 45th coach in the Argonauts' now 150-year history, Ryan Dinwiddie returns for a third season as head coach of the Boatmen following his East Division Coach of the Year wins in 2021 and 2022.
Key additions and subtractions
The 2023 version of the Argonauts is not all that different from the 2022 team as a plethora of familiar faces return, including running backs A.J. Ouellette and Andrew Harris alongside wide receiver Markeith Ambles to keep continuity in a talent-laden offence featuring Canadian Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and DaVaris Daniels.
New to the Double Blue's offence this season is former Ottawa Redblacks centre Darius Ciraco and former Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver David Ungerer III.
The Argos' defence enters the 2023 season having lost CFL All-Star defensive back Chris Edwards to the Tiger-Cats but gained Montreal Alouettes’ 2022 Most Outstanding Defensive Player Adarius Pickett and former Calgary Stampeders defensive lineman Folarin Orimolade.
Henoc Muamba, the 109th Grey Cup MVP and Most Outstanding Canadian, is also back for another season with the Argonauts.
While not a free-agent signing, the Argonauts acquired 2021 Most Outstanding Rookie-winning linebacker Jordan Williams from the BC Lions in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2023 CFL Draft.
Player to watch
Entering his second CFL season and first as a starter, Kelly is the player to watch this season.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Kelly appeared in 18 games last season, throwing for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The product of Ole Miss added another 137 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns.
The 29-year-old became the hero of the 109th Grey Cup after Bethel-Thompson exited the fourth quarter with an injured thumb and Kelly entered the game to quarterback the Boatmen to their first championship since 2017.
Kelly has not been a starter since his 2016 season with the Rebels, who went 5-7. Kelly threw for 2,758 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions in nine games.
Kelly threw for a collegiate-high 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns to 13 interceptions during the Rebels’ Sugar Bowl-winning 2015 season.
“It’s not often you see a defending champion start a season with the most inexperienced quarterback room in the league. Starter Chad Kelly flashed in relief when it mattered most in during the Grey Cup game last November. But it was his first meaningful football he’d played in six years. And with two inexperienced backups, the Argos are unproven at the game’s most important position. The good news is they are loaded with proven veteran talent nearly everywhere else.” – TSN Football Insider Dave Naylor
“Everyone I've spoken to about Chad Kelly says the 29-year old has all the physical tools to be a successful quarterback in the CFL. Kelly has plenty of confidence in his own abilities and says he continues to grow as a person and a professional, but I want to see how he adapts to inevitable adversity series-to-series, game-to-game. He needs experience. I also think the Argos pass rush can get even better with free agent arrival DL Folarin Orimolade, and I'm excited to see how LB Jordan Williams evolves into a leader for defensive coordinator Corey Mace.” – TSN’s Matthew Scianitti
Week 2 – The Argonauts host their QEW rival Tiger-Cats at BMO Field as they unveil their 109th Grey Cup banner and hand out replica rings to fans in attendance.
Week 6 – Pickett and the Argos’ defence go up against the new-look, Cody Fajardo-led Alouettes.
Week 13 – The Argonauts look to capture their second Labour Day Classic win in a row when they take on the Tiger-Cats.
Week 17 – It’s a rematch of the 109th Grey cup as the Argonauts travel to IG Field to take on Zach Collaros and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.