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The relief in Dave Dickenson’s voice was palpable.
“You win and lose in this league with quarterback play,” said a man who should know, the Stampeders’ Hall-of-Fame quarterback turned head coach. “We really haven’t had a chance – good and bad – to develop someone because Bo’s stayed healthy.
“We’ve got the guy we need. The triggerman’s in place for four more years. And to me, Bo’s still young. There’s no reason he can’t get better.
“We’ve kinda been looking for that ‘next’ guy but we really felt the best chance to keep winning was with Bo.
“It wasn’t a given. It was getting very dicey and I know Huff extended as far as he could. We’re lucky that Bo felt this was still his best chance to win and we were able to get him back in the mix.”
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Two-time CFL MOP Bo Levi Mitchell, courted by a number of other suitors, signed a four-year, $2.8-million deal to stay in Calgary hours after free-agency opened.
“It does give us some stability but it is a big number,” conceded Dickenson. “Unfortunately you can’t have everything in a salary-cap era so obviously you lose some good players, as well.
“But I think we’ve done a pretty darn good job of signing the guys we think can help us continue having success, knowing Bo’s going to have that big number.”
With a collective bargaining agreement still to be hammered out and many players seizing on the opportunity as free agents, there was a wave of players changed organizations on the first day of eligibility.
“This is the toughest year I’ve ever seen,” conceded Dickenson. “I think the numbers are fairly big for not having any clarity on what the salary-cap will end up being.
“Here’s hoping that we have a good deal.
“It just weird to be signing guys in a cap era with no real clue of where the cap’s gonna be.
“I knew there’d be some movement but not as much as I saw. We haven’t signed one player outside of our roster and lost, including to the NFL, eight or nine starters and that used up every penny of a projected cap.
“Huff’s done his best. He looked in the magic ball and thought where the cap may be. We don’t know, though. All you can do is hope you make the numbers work for your team.
“Problem is, a lot of these guys are one-year deals so you’re gonna be doing it again in another year.
“Defensively, we’ve taken a hit. So it’s up to us to develop guys, to scout well, and you’ve got to hit it right in the Canadian draft. You miss, it’s going to set you back.
“It’s gonna be a new look all around the league, though. In my opinion, we’ve kept enough pieces to hopefully keep the continuity going.”