Adam Rita and Rich Stubler would be wise to stay close to their telephones on Feb. 15.
That's the day CFL players who have played out their options become free agents and start calling prospective new employers.
Rita, the Argonauts general manager, and Stubler, the team's defensive co-ordinator, will be hearing from Barrin Simpson, one of the league's top linebackers.
The 28-year-old confirmed yesterday in a phone interview from his home in Starkville, Miss., that the Argos are one of the teams he'll be contacting.
"It's a matter of speaking to all the teams on the 15th," said Simpson. "I feel there are six teams that would show some definite interest in me."
The 5-foot-11, 233-pounder has made it clear that he won't be returning to the B.C. Lions, the only team he's played for in his five-year CFL career. The perennial all-star also feels Calgary and Montreal would not have a spot for him.
Simpson is not only unhappy that the Lions switched from a 4-3 defence (four linemen and three linebackers with him in the middle) to a 3-4 setup, but that he was not informed of the change. "I didn't even know until two weeks before training camp. So I wasn't prepared to go to camp. I'd been training as if we were going to keep playing the 4-3," said Simpson.
The Argos employ the 3-4 defence, but Simpson said he'd like to speak to Stubler and see where he might fit in.
"I want to play within the defensive co-ordinator's scheme, but also play the way everybody loves to see Barrin Simpson play," he said.
"You can't change Damon Allen into a pocket quarterback or Dave Dickenson to a running quarterback. That's the sort of thing that was happening to me."
Rita was coach and general manager of the Lions when he brought Simpson, who had been cut by the NFL's New England Patriots, into the CFL. He later took over as head coach and Simpson said he enjoyed playing under Rita.
"He's one of the funnest coaches I ever played under. He was like, `I'm the guy that brought you here, so I believe in you. Just do what you have to do.'"
Yesterday, Rita re-signed Canadian wide receiver Andre Talbot to a four-year contract.
The 27-year-old Oshawa native and Wilfrid Laurier grad had his most productive season in 2005 with 48 catches for 679 yards and two touchdowns.
Rita still has six players â€? linebackers Mike O'Shea, Ray Mariuz and Antonious Bonner, offensive guard Jude St. John, receiver Mike Palmer and running back John Williams â€? to re-sign before the free agency deadline.