Chad Kackert is sticking around to wear the Double Blue again.
The Toronto Argonauts have re-signed the tailback through the 2014 season. He was pondering his NFL options after working out with the New York Jets and had entered CFL free agency when the market opened Friday afternoon.
“I feel like anywhere else, I might have had regrets about what could have been,” Kackert said. “What we did last year, I think we can do a lot more, and we’re just getting started.”
Kackert said after his December workout with the Jets, they discussed living arrangements with him and he believed a contract with the NFL team come Feb. 15 seemed a sure thing. But Kackert believes after Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum was fired in January, the Jets had other priorities. They still had to decide whether to offer Kackert a contract. The tailback told the Jets on Friday that he had a good offer from the Argos and wanted to take it.
“Is the NFL door closed? I don’t really care if it is or isn’t, I’m really glad to be a Toronto Argonaut,” Kackert said. “I feel like I’m starting to become a part of a family in this city, and I’m glad with the decision I’ve made. Sure it’s a kid’s dream to play in the NFL, being an American, there’s more recognition. But the genuine happiness of playing football and being part of a successful team, there’s a lot more to be said about that than the lucrativeness of the business.”
The 26-year-old product of the University of New Hampshire began 2012 as the Argos’ backup but emerged as the starter after the Argos released Cory Boyd. Kackert became a threat out the backfield for the Boatmen, rushing for 638 yards and five touchdowns on 100 carries in the remainder of the regular season, adding another 23 receptions for 212 yards.
In the 100th Grey Cup game versus the Calgary Stampeders, Kackert was named the game’s MVP after he rushed for 133 yards on 20 carries, and added eight receptions for 62 yards.
“Chad is a young player coming into his own in the CFL who took advantage of an excellent opportunity,” Argonauts general manager Jim Barker said. “He played very well for us and he’s an important reason why we won the Grey Cup. Chad is well respected in our locker room and we’re thrilled to have him back in Toronto.”
The Argos also added Canadian linebacker James Yurichuk on Friday. Defensive end Ricky Foley is exploring his free-agent options and is attending an NFL workout this weekend before deciding whether to re-sign with the Argos.
Elsewhere, in a busy opening day of free agency, the B.C. Lions held on to offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye and linebacker Solomon Elimimian. They also grabbed defensive end Julius Williams, who is leaving Edmonton after two seasons. Olafioye and Elimimian had reportedly been exploring NFL options but opted to return to B.C.
The Edmonton Eskimos made the first splash just minutes after the free-agent market opened, grabbing one of the biggest names in this year’s class – import pass rusher Odell Willis. He joins the Eskimos after spending last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Esks also picked up import defensive back Marcell Young, who is leaving the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The Ticats bolstered their Canadian content by adding two former first-round draft picks. Linebacker/defensive lineman Shomari Williams and defensive tackle Brian Bulcke both signed in Hamilton through 2015.
The Montreal Alouettes signed import free agent Geoff Tisdale to a two-year deal, part of the team’s efforts to rebuild the defence, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers kept slotback Clarence Denmark.
The Roughriders re-signed linebacker Tyron Brackenridge and signed free-agent defensive back Dwight Anderson.
Brackenridge has spent the last two seasons with Saskatchewan. He started all 18 regular-season games last year, posting a team-high 77 tackles and two interceptions.
Anderson joins the Riders after two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes.
With a report from The Canadian Press