Toronto Argos remaining patient with veterans Bethel-Thompson, Muamba
Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson (4) throws the ball against the Montreal Alouettes during first half CFL Eastern Final football action in Toronto on Sunday, November 13, 2022. Bethel-Thompson became a CFL free agent Tuesday and has yet to re-sign with the defending Grey Cup champions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, February 16, 2023 4:37PM EST
The Toronto Argonauts continue to give veteran starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson time to ponder his football future.
Bethel-Thompson became a CFL free agent Tuesday and has yet to re-sign with the defending Grey Cup champions. The 34-year-old American did say, though, following Toronto's 24-23 championship win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in November that being away from his wife and young daughter was difficult and family considerations would figure prominently in his off-season considerations.
On Thursday, Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said the club is taking a wait-and-see approach with Bethel-Thompson.
"We'll see, we're being pretty patient with him," Dinwiddie told reporters. "I don't know exactly how it's going to play out.
"He's got some things going on in the (United) States and his wife has some great opportunities (with) her job. He might stay there and support her … he's thinking some of those things over, we're trying to be (as) comfortable as we can be and give him time."
Bethel-Thompson's wife, Chinaka Hodge, works as a senior writer/ producer with Marvel Studios and is helming the upcoming Ironheart series on Disney Plus.
But Dinwiddie did concede time is of the essence.
"Yeah, there will be a timeline on it," he said. "It's got to happen here pretty soon if we make that decision and he makes that decision.
"We've been doing our research so we're ready to go if he retires or wants to come back."
Bethel-Thompson threw for a CFL-high 4,731 yards last season with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He led Toronto into its Grey Cup showdown versus Winnipeg but suffered a dislocated right thumb late in the contest.
But backup Chad Kelly — the nephew of former Bills' star quarterback Jim Kelly — came off the bench to rally Toronto to its stunning 24-23 victory. Kelly completed four-of-six passes for 43 yards but it was his crucial 20-yard run on second-and-15 that set up A.J. Ouellette's game-winning five-yard rushing TD.
Canadian defensive lineman Bobbie Smith clinched Toronto's stunning victory when he blocked Marc Liegghio’s 47-yard field-goal try with 54 seconds remaining. The Argos got the ball at their 14-yard line and were able to run out the clock.
Veteran Toronto linebacker Henoc Muamba, the Grey Cup game's most valuable player and top Canadian, is another free agent the club is also waiting upon.
"They're working on it," Dinwiddie said. "I think he wants to be back.
"He's getting a little bit older as well, his legacy is already cemented (so) is this the time to step away and move on to other things? I know he's got some other things going and some passions he wants to do outside of football. Similar thing to Mac, we're going to see how it plays out. Obviously we want him back so we'll see."
Should Muamba retire, Toronto would still appear to be strong in the middle of its defence with returnee Wynton McManis and newcomer Jordan Williams, who was acquired just over a week ago from the B.C. Lions.
The six-foot, 232-pound Williams was the first player taken in the 2020 CFL draft out of East Carolina but the league didn't stage a season that year due to the global pandemic. Williams captured the league's top rookie honour in 2021 after posting 92 tackles (the most ever by a first-year player), five special-teams tackles, a sack and interception.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2023.