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Veteran CB Peters anxious to join Tiger-Cats

Jamal Peters Toronto Argonauts Jamal Peters - The Canadian Press

HAMILTON — He's still adjusting to life with a different team, but Jamal Peters is comfortable with his new colours.

The veteran cornerback will suit up with Hamilton in 2024 following three seasons with the archrival Toronto Argonauts. While that means getting used to a new city and team, Peters will have no issues donning the Tiger-Cats' black and gold uniform.

"I wore black and gold in high school (in Bassfield, Mississippi)," said Peters, in town for the CFL's '24 content shoot. "Our team name was the Yellowjackets so it will be like those days all over again."

The six-foot-two, 220-pound Peters established himself as one of the CFL's top cover corners with Toronto, registering 120 tackles, 11 interceptions and two forced fumbles in 36 regular-season games. Peters was a '22 CFL all-star when he recorded a league-high six interceptions (one pick-six) and 57 tackles in helping the Argos win the Grey Cup.

Peters started 13 games last season, registering 32 tackles (two for loss), four interceptions and two forced fumbles. But after posting a CFL-best 16-2 regular-season record, Toronto's stellar campaign ended with a stunning 38-17 East Division final loss to eventual Grey Cup-champion Montreal.

It's a defeat that still bothers Peters.

"I still have a bad taste in my mouth with how it ended after the season we had," he said. "That's why I'm preparing twice a day trying to get my mind right because I have high expectations coming into this season.

"I felt I left a lot of plays on the field . . . but I'm still bringing the same mindset and championship DNA because I know what it takes to win."

Peters would have relished remaining in Toronto and helping the Argos return to the Grey Cup, but said Hamilton was very persistent in pursuing him in free agency.

"No bad feelings, at the end of the day business is business," Peters said. "It was a little hurtful at first when we were trying to negotiate and we weren't seeing eye-to-eye . . . but Hamilton really wanted me and I'm very excited to get going with them.

"It (playing Argos in 2024) will be my first time facing a team I played for and I'll be thrilled to maybe show them what they lost but at the end of the day it will be just another game within the division. My thing is to remain calm, don't get too excited because when you do in those type of games, that's when things go bad."

Remaining in the East Division was important for Peters so his parents, brother and girlfriend could continue attending his games.

"I never thought I'd leave Toronto because when you start with an organization you feel that's where you're going to be," he said. "But God had other plans and so it's kind of the same approach but with a different team and I'll get accustomed to that as soon as camp starts."

Peters doesn't see his game changing much with Hamilton.

"I still have to be Jamal," he said. "Every time I step on to the field, I feel like I'm the best player on the field and have to be better than I was the game before.

"Nothing has really changed, it's still football, just a new team. The system will be different but I've been playing football all of my life, I'm going into my fourth year (in CFL) so I'm comfortable with where I'm at but I'm not where I want to be, which is to be great."

Peters' 2024 goals are to contend for the CFL's top defensive player honour and help Hamilton secure its first Grey Cup title since 1999.

"Jamal is a natural leader and high-character individual," said Kenny Kim of Summit Athletes, Peters' Florida-based agent. "He was well sought-after during the free-agent period and I expect he'll come into the Hammer and let his play speak for itself.

"Jamal will continue to grow as a person and player and prove this year why he's one of the CFL's premier defensive players."

Something Peters is very anxious to show the Ticats.

"They're getting a guy who'll play 100 per cent and give 100 per cent effort," he said. "I'm just an all-in guy and they're going to get my best every game.

"I'm ready to get it started."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024.