Patience proved to be a big reason why Canadian Cameron Judge landed with Argonauts

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Patience figured prominently in linebacker Cameron Judge becoming a Toronto Argonaut.

Judge signed with Toronto on Wednesday as a free agent, the move coming after he attended a workout last week with the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders. Judge spent his first three pro seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders before opting out to explore NFL opportunities after the CFL cancelled plans for an abbreviated 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge said Toronto was willing to wait for him, adding he was somewhat surprised Saskatchewan — which selected him second overall in the '17 CFL draft — was not.

"But it's business," Judge told reporters Thursday during a Zoom call. "If they (the Riders) waited for me and I were to get the contract (with the Raiders), then that puts them in a bad position.

"That's how it goes . . . that’s part of the business. That's the risk I took."

The six-foot-one, 235-pound Judge grew up cheering for the Raiders. While Judge was born in Montreal, he moved to California with his family at three months old.

The family moved to B.C. when Judge was three, then back to California when he 12.

"I wore Raiders shoes to school in eighth grade," he said. "I'm happy with what I did, I don't have regrets."

Judge gives Toronto plenty of bang for its buck. Not only is he a productive player but as a Canadian he allows the Argos to play an American elsewhere in their lineup.

Judge, 26, was the West Division's top Canadian in 2019 after registering 61 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions for Saskatchewan. And once again he'll team with veteran rush end Charleston Hughes, another former Rider who joined the Argos as a free agent.

Hughes is 37 but has registered double-digit sacks the last five years.

"He wants to win a championship and that’s what I want to do as well," Judge said. "He's a guy I look up to in the way he handles himself and navigates the league.

"With a player like that, you kind of let him do what he does. I feel comfortable playing off him, letting him do what he does and usually good things happen."

Judge said he's capable of assuming whatever role the Argos have in mind for him.

"I think I'll be able to focus on my strengths a lot," he said. "I feel like with that D-line I'll be able to play in space a lot and I obviously feel comfortable getting after the quarterback, too.

"Really, whatever they need me to do. I've never felt like I'm a scheme player. I've played in a bunch of schemes throughout my career and I'm able to adjust to them all. I feel I'm a pretty well-rounded linebacker so whatever they need me to do I can do."

In high school, Judge was a running back. The turning point came when former teammate Clay Matthews — who'd go on to become an NFL star linebacker with Green Bay and the L.A. Rams — suggested Judge switch to defence.

"When I first got to high school, I was a running back, offence is what I did," Judge said. "My sophomore year, he (Matthews) told me I had the chance to start at linebacker, but I would be defence only for that year.

"When someone like Clay Matthews tells you that you've got a shot at something in your future, you take it. I did that and worked with him for three years, built the structure of who I am as a linebacker."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Deb. 18, 2021

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press