CALGARY — The day before free agency, the Calgary Stampeders remain optimistic they’ll be able to reach an agreement with starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
The two-time Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup Champion is at the centre of one of the most hyped free agent classes in recent memory, joining Mike Reilly and Trevor Harris as marquee pivots that could test the open market as early as noon ET on Tuesday.
“We’re talking,” said General Manager John Hufnagel. “We’re optimistic we’ll get something done. We’re plugging away.”
Since winning the Grey Cup in November, Mitchell has spent the last couple of months entertaining offers from south of the border. It was widely believed Mitchell would either strike an NFL deal or return to Calgary, where he’s become the CFL’s all-time win percentage leader among quarterbacks.
Last week, however, several reports surfaced that Mitchell will explore all options in free agency, including offers from other CFL teams.
Free Agency 2019
As Feb. 12 fast approaches, some of the league’s biggest stars are closing in on free agency. CFL.ca has ongoing coverage.
In January, during the annual winter meetings in Mont-Tremblant, Que., the Stamps said they expected a decision from Mitchell before the start of free agency. Mitchell’s NFL aspirations along with an expiring collective bargaining agreement have only complicated matters.
“It makes it a bit more confusing and challenging,” Hufnagel said of the CBA. “You have to have certain guidelines and things and just move on with it.”
The quarterback carousel certainly has fans talking this off-season. While Reilly is expected to sign with the BC Lions once free agency opens, Harris could be viewed as the next best option if Mitchell takes his time making a decision.
The Stamps, meanwhile, have a contingency plan in the event Mitchell exits, as the team isn’t ready to entrust sophomore Nick Arbuckle as the starter.
“I haven’t lost any sleep over other people’s QB situations,” said Hufnagel. “I’m concerned about ours here.”
Mitchell, 28, has spent seven seasons with Calgary, appearing in five Grey Cups including four as a starter. He was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2018 for the second time in his career after throwing for 5,124 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions.
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