Argonauts dip into free agency

The Toronto Argonauts didn’t wait long to dip into the CFL’s free-agent waters. The Argos signed cornerback Byron Parker and offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux on Tuesday. Parker spent most of last season with the Edmonton Eskimos while Gagne-Marcoux was with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Toronto Argonauts didn’t wait long to dip into the CFL’s free-agent waters.

The Argos signed cornerback Byron Parker and offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux on Tuesday. Parker spent most of last season with the Edmonton Eskimos while Gagne-Marcoux was with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Both Parker and Gagne-Marcoux had their previous CFL deals expire on Tuesday, meaning they were free to sign with any team.

The B.C. Lions also got into the act, signing defensive lineman Keron Williams, who helped the Montreal Alouettes win a Grey Cup title last season.

Parker, who was also in conversation with Hamilton, said his familiarity with Toronto played a role in his final decision.

Parker spent his first four CFL seasons with the Argos before being dealt to Edmonton last year.

“I love it there,” Parker said. “I’m familiar with the city and the people are familiar with me.

“I have people up there who I consider my family.

“And it’s also easy for my family to get in and out of, as far as if they want to drive up of if they want to fly up.”

Earlier, the Argos announced they re-signed veteran receiver P.K. Sam, hours before he was slated to become a free agent.

And the Saskatchewan Roughriders also re-signed long-snapper Jocelyn Frenette, offensive lineman Marc Parenteau and fullback Chris Szarka.

Also, the Ticats dealt all-star defensive back Chris Thompson to Edmonton for receiver Maurice Mann.

The six-foot-one, 260-pound Williams was named a CFL all-star last season after registering 32 tackles and eight sacks with Montreal.

“Keron is quick, athletic and brings a lot of skill to his position,” said Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono.

“He was one of the top free agents available and we’re excited to have him join us.”

The six-foot-two, 290-pound Gagne-Marcoux comes to Toronto after being selected in the first round, eighth overall, by Hamilton in the 2006 CFL Canadian college draft.

He joins an Argos squad that posted a league-worst 3-15 record last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

Much of Toronto’s struggles last year came because of an anemic offence that finished last in scoring (18.2 points per game) total yards (283 per game), yards rushing (82.5 per game) and sacks allowed (55) and was second-last in yards passing (229.3 yards).

Frenette will return to the Riders for his ninth CFL season. He was selected in the third round, 33rd overall, by Saskatchewan in the 2001 Canadian college draft out of the University of Ottawa and has appeared in 119 regular-season games with the club.

Parenteau is heading into his fourth season with the Riders and sixth in the CFL. The Boston College grad has appeared in 62 games with the Riders and last year started all 18 contests at right guard.

The six-foot-three, 235-pound Szarka, of Vancouver, has spent his entire 13-year career with the Riders.

He’s appeared in 206 career regular-season games, having rushed for 1,702 yard and 32 TDs on 429 carries and adding 97 catches for 1,295 yards and five touchdowns.