Who were the winners and losers on the opening day of CFL free agency?
After the Toronto Argonauts missed out on top free-agent quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, despite offering him a four-year deal that would have paid him more than $800,000 annually, general manager Jim Popp said James Franklin will enter the season atop the team’s depth chart.
“Moving into this season [Franklin] is set up to be our number one guy,” Popp told First Up on TSN 1050.
After a disappointing season, for both for the Argos and Franklin, Popp said the 27-year-old is only a year removed from being a sought-after quarterback, and said there are a number of reasons to believe he can bounce back in 2019.
“One year ago, when free agency was about to start, we got the hottest guy that everybody wanted in Franklin,” Popp said.
“Marc and James just never clicked, unfortunately,” Popp continued, referring to the team’s since-fired head coach Marc Trestman. “Somewhere in there from the time we started in minicamp to training camp, it just did not click for whatever reason. It just wasn’t a mesh between them.”
In 12 games for the Argos last season, Franklin threw for 2,034 yards and eight touchdowns to nine interceptions on 187-of-286 passing.
“New coordinator, new system – maybe James will play exactly the way everybody envisioned him to, or get that chance to play that way,” Popp said.
Popp added the team might not be done adding at the quarterback position, and will keep their eyes on veterans in the free-agent market.
“We will continue to look at someone like Travis Lulay, if he wants to come over here and help be a backup or be a situational guy here,” he said. “We’ll look out there and see who is left.”