Argos GM laments loss of players in CFL Expansion Draft
Ottawa Redblacks pluck 3 Toronto players Monday
A good day for the Ottawa Redblacks and the CFL, but a painful one for the other eight teams.
"There's no doubt," Toronto Argonaut GM Jim Barker said after Monday's expansion draft. "Everybody in the league lost players they didn't necessarily want to lose.
"It's not a fun deal. You spend time and you develop [talent] but for the league it's a great exciting time. And I thought [GM] Marcel [Desjardins] and [coach] Rick [Campbell] and those guys did a fantastic job in piecing together their picks."
The Argos lost Canadian offensive lineman Joe Eppele and linebacker Jason Pottinger and import defensive end Jonathan Williams to the Redblacks.
Barker tried to prepare his squad for the coming changes.
"I sent all the players a letter over the weekend. Our team we knew was never going to be the same, but this [draft] is different. It doesn't happen very often."
The Argos lost an offensive line starter in Eppele and a former starter and important special teams contributor in Pottinger. Williams, described by Barker as an up-and-comer, saw action on and off as a backup.
"We have ideas of what we want to do but it obviously changes things that you might have done," Barker said of the losses. "That's the process we're in now — trying to recover and fill holes."
The Argos hope McMaster offensive lineman Matt Sewell, a first round pick in the 2013 draft who spent some time in camp with the Tennessee Titans, might be able to help their cause.
A longer shot is linebacker Cory Greenwood, a Concordia product taken third overall by Toronto in the 2010 draft who is currently on the Detroit Lions' injured reserve list.
The six-foot-eight, 301-pound Eppele appeared in all 18 games last season.
"We just had too many guys," Barker said of his Canadian offensive line talent. "We just couldn't protect all of them."
Eppele is due to undergo shoulder surgery next week, a fact that was disclosed to Ottawa.
"Joe's a good enough player, they felt it was OK to take that risk," Barker said.
Pottinger played three seasons in B.C. before joining Toronto in 2009. The six-foot-two 238 pounder, who lost his starting job to Robert McCune, had 13 tackles and 14 special teams tackles in 2013.
Barker said Pottinger's loss will be felt on and off the field.
"He's everything a CFL player is all about," said Barker. "He's been as instrumental in turning this organization around as anybody in it. I'm so indebted to him for what he's done since he came here."
Williams, 6-2 and 282 pounds, was a B.C. Lion in 2009 before joining the Argos in 2013. In between he played for the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.
Williams had tackles and two quarterback sacks in 12 games with the Argos.