Four teams over 24 months and Nick Arbuckle only played games for two of those teams. The last couple of years have been strange for the quarterback as he has moved from the Calgary Stampeders to the Ottawa RedBlacks to the Toronto Argonauts and then late last season to the Edmonton Elks.
“You kind of start to feel like a nomad around the league, like you don’t have a home,” said the 28 year old from Oxnard, California, as he works to get ready for training camp in Edmonton in May. It will be his third straight season in a different CFL city for training camp.
Arbuckle’s CFL career begin in 2018 in Calgary. He backed up Bo Levi Mitchell for two seasons and got to play a lot in 2019 when Mitchell went down with an injury. He started seven and went four and three, throwing for just over 2,000 yards, 11 touchdowns with five interceptions.
The RedBlacks came calling during the 2020 off season and and signed Arbuckle after acquiring his rights in a trade before free agency, but the season was cancelled and he was released by Ottawa in a contract dispute.
The Argos then signed him to reunite with his former QB coach Ryan Dinwiddie with the Stampeders, now head coach in Toronto. That too did not work out as the Argos decided to go with McLeod Bethel-Thompson as their starter and traded Arbuckle to the Elks in October of last season.
After arriving in Edmonton, he practiced but never got to play with the Elks as they went with Taylor Cornelius and Dakota Prukop to finish up their hectic schedule in 2021 — a decision that Arbuckle was on board with — especially as the team played three games in seven days to wrap up the season.
“An unprecedented situation,” said Arbuckle, who did play seven games with Toronto last season, throwing for 1,158 yards, completing 63 per cent of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions.
“I was happy to spend a few weeks with the team getting to know the organization and the players in the locker room and I felt I built some good relationships in my short time there.”
The Elks liked Arbuckle enough to sign him to a one-year contract extension about a week after he arrived, a deal that has since been reworked by new GM and head coach Chris Jones to include a signing bonus that virtually guarantees him a chance to compete for the starter’s job in 2022.
“It was really important to me to have some commitment to my place on the roster and knowing that I have a home and somewhere to be.
“You never know when a new coaching staff and GM comes in, you don’t know where you fit in in the plans of the new coach and GM,” Arbuckle said.
“Just to know that I am in the plans to at least be on the roster to be able to come in and at least have the opportunity to compete for the starting job, that was really big for me.
“Now I know that I’m an Elk and I will have every opportunity to come in and compete for a job.”
Now Arbuckle will try and recapture the success he had in 2019 to get things back on track.
“Hopefully I can surpass what I was in 2019. I felt I was better in 2021.”
One thing he has done is set up shop in California this off season like he did in 2019.
“Being able to be around a lot of professional football players from the NFL, CFL and a lot of top college players and free agents around my area, I had a phenomenal training environment from January to reporting to training camp in May.
“It’s already been a much better off season than I have had in the last couple of years.”
Arbuckle is currently one of five quarterbacks under contract that will be at Elks training camp in 2022.
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