The Argonauts made a big move to reload the defence that guided them to Grey Cup glory last year by acquiring Khalif Mitchell from the B.C. Lions. Al Dannity however says this is far from a home-run signing.
The upsides to Khalif Mitchell are obvious. The former East Carolina stand-out has the size of a NFL defensive lineman and the speed to play the Canadian game. In 2011 he showed these skills could deliver results on the field. In an All-Star season he played a vital role in guiding the B.C. Lions to the Grey Cup in 2011. Trading for a player with this kind of talent should be a no-brainer for the Argonauts. Last year’s run to winning the 100th Grey Cup was built heavily around their defence, a unit that has lost several key starters in the off-season. Mitchell is the kind of player who can bring the team back to that level. All Toronto had to do was send Adrian Awasom and a negotiation list player to the Lions for this prized asset.
So why are players in B.C. not exactly cut up about losing Mitchell? Probably because in 2012 he caused headaches on an off the field. A suspension for a major transgression against Edmonton coupled with some poor choices on Twitter meant even at his All-Star level, Mitchell was becoming a burden. To make matters worse, Mitchell didn’t come close to the form he showed a year earlier. The 2012 season was a stinker for the defensive lineman and by the end of the year the Lions organisation must have been happy just to get rid of him.
That makes this a risky hire for the Argos but they may have an eye on their future with the acquisition. With the Blue Jays looking to convert the Rogers Centre to grass, the Argos are going to have to find a new home within a couple of years. Having an entertaining and successful on-field product will be crucial to securing support for wherever that new stadium may be. Mitchell, at his best, is one of the most talented players in the CFL. If that’s the player that shows up in the summer, then the Argos will have got a bargain that can help drive support for their future. Remember, we’re only a year removed from talk of Mitchell going back to the NFL. One bad season doesn’t derail a career. At 27, this is a player that should be entering his prime. The Argos will be hoping their gamble pays off.