TORONTO — The Toronto Argonauts have acquired all-star linebacker Zeke Moreno and a 2009 sixth-round draft pick from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for defensive end Riall Johnson, the CFL club announced Thursday.
"I feel very fortunate that we were able to get a player of Zeke Moreno’s toughness, grit and aggressiveness," Argos GM Adam Rita said in a statement. "He has strong leadership skills, both on the field and in the locker room.
"Zeke is a proven player who had led the league in tackles for two seasons. We expect him to do the same with the Argos and be an anchor for our defence."
Johnson wasn’t too happy with the move.
On Wednesday night on his Facebook account, Johnson suggested he would retire rather than report to the Bombers. But on Thursday he changed it to say, "Riall is wondering if he was traded to Winnipeg in order to be exiled from Toronto for good."
Johnson made headlines last season when, after being relegated to backup status late in the season by former head coach Don Matthews, he suggested publicly that the Argos erred in firing Rich Stubler and replacing him with Matthews.
Moreno has led the CFL in tackles the last two seasons. The Bombers acquired him from Hamilton during the ’08 campaign after starter Barrin Simpson suffered a season-ending injury.
Moreno began his CFL career in ’07 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"Believe it or not, my goal is not to play for every CFL team, although I’m almost halfway there," Moreno said. "I plan to finish my career as an Argonaut.
"I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I’m blessed to be able to play this game that I love so much. I plan to bring all of the hard work and intensity I’ve shown throughout my career. Get ready Toronto — I’m so glad to be on board when we turn this thing around."
Moreno played collegiately at USC and spent four seasons in the NFL before heading to Canada.
The six-foot-three, 250-pound Johnson, a native of White Rock, B.C., heads to Winnipeg after four seasons with the Argos.
"Riall is a proven quality starter that can rush off the edge, or move inside," head coach Mike Kelly said. "We’re always looking for players that can provide us with versatility and we can put him a few different spots."
Johnson, who played his college football at Stanford, appeared in 15 games last season with the Argonauts, getting 10 starts on the defensive line. He recorded four sacks, 34 defensive tackles, two tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.