Argos lose Parker, Sam to NFL

Receiver P.K. Sam and cornerback Byron Parker left the Toronto Argonauts on Tuesday to sign with the NFL's Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

The Toronto Argonauts lost two players but gained an assistant coach Tuesday.

Receiver P.K. Sam, who joined the Argos last season, and veteran cornerback Byron Parker signed with the NFL's Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

Both were in the option years of CFL deals, allowing them to sign contracts south of the border.

Sandwiched between those moves was the Argos' announcing the hiring of Richard Kent as their secondary coach.

Sam joined the Argos in September 2008 and finished the season with 36 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns. Before arriving in Toronto, the Florida State product spent time in the NFL with the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders and also played in NFL Europe.

Move not unexpected

Argos general manager Adam Rita said Sam's departure wasn't unexpected.

"He made it clear to us he was going to pursue the NFL at the end of the year but that he would like to stay in Toronto if things didn't work out," Rita said. "We're optimistic we'll be able to find someone to take his place.

"P.K. did a marvellous job of fitting in and that's something you don't know about a guy when you bring him in. But he probably did the best job of fitting in than anyone we've had in a while, especially that quickly."

Rita said the Argos would appear to have options at receiver, with Canadians Obed Cetoute, Tyler Scott and Steve Schmidt.

"We had high hopes for Obed but he had some lower leg problems, which happens in our game," Rita said. "He offers a lot of hope because he's a big receiver with good hands and is tough.

"Tyler Scott is a young guy who can compete in there and is a big receiver again. And Steve Schmidt is a different kind of receiver, more a blocking tight end-fullback type but he gives us the bulk and size we need on the edge to handle the big guys."

Parker will be missed

The Argos wouldn't comment about Parker's departure because they hadn't been officially informed of the move, either by the player or the Eagles.

But Toronto will certainly miss the former Tulane star, who spent four years with the CFL club and registered 18 interceptions, six of which he returned for touchdowns.

Parker, who was the 2003 NCAA basketball dunk champion, had his best CFL season in 2006 when he recorded eight interceptions, returning four for TDs.

Kent, 48, joins the Argos staff after spending nearly nine seasons in NFL Europe, including three years (2005 to 2007) with the Amsterdam Admirals, where he worked with new Toronto head coach Bart Andrus.

"He was instrumental in helping our football team get to World Bowl XIII and XIV, which we won," Andrus said in a statement. "He has always been around championship teams and relates well to the DB position area, which is not easy to do.

"His knowledge of special teams and personnel is also extensive and he is a great teacher of technique."

Kent also has 17 years of NCAA coaching experience, spending time on both sides of the ball from 1985 to 2000.

"It is thrilling to be working for such a storied CFL team, the oldest pro franchise in North America," Kent said. "I'm excited to come to Toronto and start working with the players and all of the Argonauts staff."