The contract offer, if not exactly the football, apparently is in Damon Allen’s hands.
With free agency for the Argos quarterback scheduled to kick in tomorrow, the team is waiting to hear whether the 43-year-old veteran is planning to accept an 2007 season.
“We’re still talking, but really it’s up to Damon and we respect him enough to do it at his pace,” Argos general manager Adam Rita said last night in a phone interview from league meetings in Montreal.
“We’d love to have him back, not only as a player but down the road as part of the organization. But at the same time, we are restructuring and moving forward.”
Should Allen agree to what is on the table, it won’t come with any guarantee that he will be the starter or earn starter’s money. With or without Allen, Rita and coach Mike Clemons have made it clear that the battle for the starting quarterback job will be an open competition.
They hope last year’s backup and possible frontrunner for the position, Michael Bishop, also will be in the mix.
“It’s open season for that job, it has to be that way contract-wise,” Rita said. “Whoever plays is going to get the money.”
The immediate task is determining who will be in the fight at training camp.
The Argos had hoped to have a shot at acquiring former B.C. Lion Casey Printers, but those plans were scuttled when he signed a three-year extension with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the team is confident Bishop, who sparked the offence in relief of Allen in two playoff appearances this past season, will be one candidate.
Bishop currently is under contract with Kansas City Brigade of the AFL, though there is some dispute as to the validity of that arrangement. CFL officials hinted yesterday they hope to resolve the ongoing disputed with the AFL, which has signed a number of contracted CFL players this off-season.
Eric Crouch, who was with the team last year is another contender for the quarterback race.
Meanwhile, Rita sounded doubtful that the Argos would be able to afford former NFL receiver Freddie Mitchell, who was in town for a workout on the weekend.
Mitchell indicated to Argos brass that he is still eying options south of the border.
“I doubt if we’ll get him, he’s still in NFL mode,” Rita said of the outspoken receiver and former NFL first-round pick. “Truthfully, the money isn’t right for him so he’ll probably wait. Down the road we might have a chance.”