Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Argos Assistant GM Says He Has Authority to Make Deals in CFL Free Agency

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Argos Assistant GM Says He Has Authority to Make Deals in CFL Free Agency

Article excerpt

Zimmerman says he has authority to make deals

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TORONTO - Spencer Zimmerman will guide the Toronto Argonauts through the CFL free-agent waters.

Toronto heads into CFL free agency -- which begins at noon ET on Tuesday -- without either a general manager or head coach. Zimmerman, the club's assistant GM, has handled the general manager's duties since Jim Barker was fired late last month.

Head coach Scott Milanovich resigned shortly after to become the quarterbacks coach with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. So with Toronto president Michael Copeland spearheading the search for a new GM -- who'll be responsible for hiring a head coach -- Zimmerman said he has the authority to pull the trigger on free-agent deals.

"I have the full commitment from the ownership group and Michael Copeland to make the moves that are necessary for this football team to be competitive now but also in the future," Zimmerman said Monday. "For us it's really not about finding that one guy, I can't stress that enough.

"It's about finding the right fits and we're very very realistic about the values associated with those fits."

Zimmerman certainly faces a big challenge.

Toronto has many needs after finishing last in the East Division with a 5-13 record. The Argos did sign five Canadians -- including kicker Lirim Hajrullahu and offensive linemen Chris Van Zeyl and Tyler Holmes -- to extensions but 1,000-yard rusher Brandon Whitaker and linebacker Cory Greenwood, a native of Kingston, Ont., were among the 20 other players slated for free agency.

Zimmerman faces making personnel decisions without knowing what systems the Argos' coaches will run in 2017. Then there's trying to attract quality free agents to a franchise that's minus the direction and vision provided by a GM and coach.

Zimmerman has also never before called the shots in free agency. He's in just his second season with Toronto, promoted to his current post last month after serving as its director of American scouting and pro development in 2016.

Before joining the Argos, Zimmerman worked as Hamilton's co-ordinator of scouting and football administration.

"I don't really think there's a challenge," Zimmerman said. "In terms of our player acquisition philosophy, it's going to run (similarly) with the vision of the ownership group and Michael Copeland . . . that is to covet and attract players with certain intangibles that we believe make successful Toronto Argonauts.

"We have the ability to be active but we're definitely not going to be chasing players or going all-in on a certain player at the risk of mortgaging our model for cap management. I think the players we covet Tuesday will understand our organizational vision."

CFL teams will have a bit more to spend with the '17 salary cap increasing $50,000 to $5.15 million. But with over 150 players slated to become free agents, it's not nearly enough to keep everyone happy. …

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