First, their star receiver tries his hands at Mixed Martial Arts. Now it’s their star acquisition saying he wants nothing to do with them. As off-seasons go, the Toronto Argonauts’ has been one part lively, two parts unforeseen.
Having survived Chad Owens’s successful MMA debut last weekend, the Argonauts took another unexpected news hit Friday when Khalif Mitchell, the focal player of the April 2 trade with the B.C. Lions, said he would not be reporting to Toronto.
The 6-foot-6, 316-pound import defensive lineman told Sportsnet he wants to stay close to the West Coast, where he can play football and also work with a Seattle-based company that makes, what he called, “a nice herbal drink.” To that end, Mitchell said he would accept either a trade to the Edmonton Eskimos or Calgary Stampeders or his outright release.
While the Argonauts had no say in Owens’s off-season pursuits, they have far more control in Mitchell’s case. They own his football rights for 2013 and, after sending import defensive lineman Adrian Awasom and an unidentified player to the Lions for Mitchell, the Argonauts are not about to let him walk away without compensation. The question is whether any CFL team wants the 2011 all-star defender.
Calgary could use Mitchell but doesn’t have to overpay for a 27-year-old lineman who drew the CFL’s ire last season for injuring another player after the whistle, making a throat-slashing gesture at the opposing team’s offensive line and later violating the league’s social-media policy with a derogatory tweet. Those actions earned Mitchell fines and a suspension.
As for the Eskimos’ interest, it was their player who was injured after the whistle and their offensive line that drew the throat-slashing threat from Mitchell, which means they don’t even want to entertain the thought.
The Argonauts had little comment on Mitchell’s outburst other than to issue a statement saying, “All Argonauts’ players, as per the Canadian Football League, are expected to report to training camp on June 1, 2013.” If Mitchell doesn’t, he’ll be suspended and could stay that way for some time.
Mitchell has a year remaining on his contract and is keen once again to try his luck in the NFL, where he previously spent two seasons on the practice roster of the San Francisco 49ers.