Photo: Nelson Campana
The Toronto Argonauts re-signed quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson for the 2022 season.
Bethel-Thompson was the starting quarterback in last year’s season opener, but that was due in large part to Nick Arbuckle’s nagging glute/hamstring injury. Starter or not, he looked good in that opening game, rallying from behind to notch an important victory in a notoriously tough place to play. He was given the start the following week in Winnipeg, but after a slow start was pulled for Nick Arbuckle in the second half, and that was it for MBT until Week 8.
McLeod made the most of his second chance midway through the season, winning five of the next six games, securing first place in the East for the Argos in the process. His most memorable outing was undoubtedly a last-second win over the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Thanksgiving Monday. That performance gave the Toronto front office the confidence to trade Arbuckle a few weeks later and lock in MBT as their starter for the remainder of the season.
Bethel-Thompson was easily Toronto’s most polarizing player in each of the past two season with seemingly half the Argos fanbase fully onboard the MBT train while the other half begged to go in another direction. The latter sites frustrating incompletions and inconsistent play, while the former cites a 7-2 record as a starter in 2021 and his league-leading 26 touchdown passes in 2019.
Bethel-Thompson has made noticeable improvements in each of his seasons in the CFL. His processing time has been greatly reduced, his ability to spread the ball around is now obvious, and his RPO play is unquestionable better. Where he’ll need to improve this season is connecting on deep balls, something once considered to be a strength of his. According to the CFL on TSN’s Marshall Ferguson, MBT was 1/17 on pass attempts of 30+ yards in 2021. This is a team problem, not necessarily an issue exclusive to the quarterback, but that’s certainly where fingers will point if this trend continues into 2022.
With both Bethel-Thompson and Antonio Pipkin under contract for 2022, Toronto’s search for a starter and backup is probably over, though no team in the CFL ever truly stops looking. In the meantime, the Argos will likely continue to bring in interesting newcomers like Austin Simmons and Cole McDonald to round out the positional group.