TORONTO – There was no doubting that Toronto’s decision to release Cory Boyd came as a shock to many. What wasn’t so surprising was the timing from the Double Blue. Jim Barker and the Argos brass have a bit of a history of making bold, often unexpected decisions that may seem impulsive to the outside observer but always with a guided purpose in place.
CFL followers need to look no further than Barker’s tenure to build a list of examples of major transactions that have occurred outside of the conventional time periods such as the off-season or training camp.
Last season, the Argos rid of their starting quarterback 48 hours after a loss to the BC Lions when they released Cleo Lemon outright at the exact halfway point of the season. Speculation swirled as to whether Lemon’s release was based on production, or lack thereof, or a conflict that arouse publicly after the quarterback was pulled from a game at halftime. Regardless, the Argos released the offensive leader and replaced him with Steven Jyles who had just been removed from the team’s nine-game injured list.
|Boyd Arrives in Edmonton|
|CFL.ca has sideline-to-sideline coverage of Cory Boyd's departure from Toronto and arrival in Edmonton.
» Video: Cory Boyd Addresses Esks Media
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» Video: Campbell Analyzes Boyd Signing
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» Kackert ready to take control
» Esks, Boyd agrees to verbal deal
» Off the Boat: Argos release Boyd
» Milanovich looking beyond numbers
»Argos no strangers to mid-season change
» Video: Milanovich Reaction to Boyd
The move failed to catapult the Argonauts into the playoffs but what it did offer was a fresh skillset behind centre, a few more entries in the win column and most importantly, the showcase of a signal-caller that would eventually be used to complete a deal to bring Ricky Ray to Toronto.
A few weeks before Lemon was handed his walking papers so too was defensive coordinator Chip Garber, less than 12 hours after the Boatmen surrendered 36 points in a loss to the Montreal Alouettes. Some viewed the move as hasty but Garber was replaced by secondary coach Orlondo Steinauer, who after a few games, guided a defence that began to cause more turnovers, send more blitz packages and button down on the defensive side of the ball.
The season before, Toronto made a mid-season push to bring in rush end Ricky Foley who had been released from the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL and in the same week re-acquired kicker Justin Medlock.
Medlock lasted all but a few games and despite giving the Argos everything they asked of him, a non-import was quickly available via trade and Noel Prefontaine re-joined a team that many thought he would never kick for again given a contentious exit of his own three years earlier. Prefontaine remained a more than steady kicker for Toronto up until the beginning of this season when he suffered a potentially career-ending injury.
The circumstances of Boyd’s release are somewhat different than the examples above given that Toronto is far from struggling (as they were in the majority of the cases sited) but the timing does display a pattern that proves that the team is not afraid to make bold moves in the interest of constantly improving their club regardless of the time of year.
The wait-and-see approach doesn’t seem to sit too well in the big smoke and that isn’t necessarily a bad quality.
Milanovich acknowledged Sunday that the decision was probably not the most popular one but it does fall in line with the direction that his offence is heading in.
"Three-and-three, while some people are pleased with that we're not and we understand we have to get better to go where we want to get in November," Milanovich said. "Sometimes you have to something that maybe is a bit unpopular but I think the fans in the city will recognize in the long run we're doing what's best for the Argos.
"Chad is a dynamic player. That's not to say Cory wasn't but sometimes you just have to do things like this to take a step forward."
Milanovich speaks of Chad Kackert who is now the leading candidate to take over the starting tailback spot.
His playing time has been limited in his two seasons with Toronto, but Kackert has proven at times that he can be relied on to get the job done.
Last season, he rushed for 349 yards (6.1-yard average) and four TDs while adding four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown in spot duty last year. But he also had three fumbles.
With Kackert in the backfield, a new chapter of sorts begins for part of the Argos offence and Boyd’s departure is indeed still a shock to many but perhaps the timing is not as stunning as many think given recent history.