Dolphins expected to okay Williams's move to Argonauts 

Dolphins expected to okay Williams's move to Argonauts

With Canadian Football League training camps about to open this weekend, it's looking more and more as if Ricky Williams will suit up this season with the Toronto Argonauts.

Sources say both the Argos and Williams anticipate the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League will permit the running back to spend the 2006 season in Canada. The NFL has suspended Williams for one season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Assuming permission is granted in the next few days, the Argos would then meet with Williams and try to hammer out a contract. Williams would then join the Argos partway through training camp, although neither side has set a deadline for a deal to come about.

"The dialogue between the Argos and the Miami Dolphins is confidential," Argos president Keith Pelley said yesterday.

The Argos have been in hot pursuit of Williams for the past few weeks after adding him to their negotiation list when he was suspended by the NFL. Sources say both Williams and his agent, Leigh Steinberg, are bullish on the idea of his joining the Argos as a means of staying in shape for an anticipated return to the NFL in 2007. Williams, whose interests include yoga and Eastern religions, is also apparently excited about the prospect of playing football outside the United States in a highly multicultural community.

The Dolphins, specifically head coach Nick Saban, are considerably less excited about the idea of Williams heading north, concerned that the soon-to-be 29-year-old might suffer an injury in the CFL. Saban, however, has great respect for Williams, and both the Argos and Williams's representatives believe Miami will reluctantly grant permission within the next few days. Miami's lone sticking point is a guarantee that Williams will be their property in 2007 to finish the final two years of his contract with the Dolphins.

Sources say Steinberg and Pelley have had extensive conversations over the past month. Steinberg, one of the NFL's most prominent agents, has been impressed with everything he has learned about the Argos, their ownership and coaching staff, led by head coach Mike Clemons.

Besides the need to stay in shape, Williams also needs income. While the Argos aren't likely to pay him more than $200,000 this season, that's welcome for an athlete in poor financial shape after his abrupt retirement from the Dolphins before the 2004 season. An arbitrator later ruled that Williams owed the Dolphins $8.6-million (U.S.), a figure later reduced to $5.4-million (U.S.) by the club.

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