Bo Levi Mitchell had a busy month of December which has provided the quarterback with multiple NFL options.
Mitchell worked out for seven carefully selected NFL teams and there were other franchises who wanted to bring the 28-year-old two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup champion in for a look. NFL teams can ink deals with CFL players starting on Dec. 31.
Expect Mitchell’s camp to carefully sort through various offers with playing time and starting potential being the top factor. Here are a look at the leading contenders:
It’s expected the Jags are moving on from Blake Bortles following a 5-11 season, the quarterback Jacksonville chose third overall in 2014. That creates an immediate need at the most important position in football. The Jaguars traded a seventh-round draft choice for Cody Kessler last March, and he took over as the starter to finish the year. Tanner Lee was chosen in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft, but he’s yet to see game action.
Offensively, Leonard Fournette leads a capable running back stable with Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole emerging young receivers. Just one year ago, the stout Jags defence – top five in the NFL in terms of points allowed per game (19.7) – led the team to the AFC Championship game with many of the key players under contract for 2019.
Doug Marrone is going to remain head coach, the man who elevated former Toronto Argos head coach Scott Milanovich to offensive coordinator mid-season. Milanovich knows Mitchell’s abilities well.
Considering the factors, Jacksonville’s situation seems the most ideal for Mitchell’s prospects to compete for a No. 1 job and be successful.
Case Keenum signed a two-year contract worth $36 million with prior to the 2018 season with a guaranteed $25 million. But there is a potential out in the deal before 2019 in which the Broncos would pay Keenum $7 million but save $11 million and only have a dead cap number of $10 million. This year, Keenum managed just 17 touchdowns against 14 interceptions as Denver missed the playoffs with a 6-10 record.
Current backup Kevin Hogan is a restricted free agent who has never thrown a pass for Denver, but started one game while with the Cleveland Browns – a loss to the Houston Texans – and played in seven others. Garrett Grayson, a 2015 third-round pick, resides on the practice roster in the Mile High City but it’s already Grayson’s third NFL team and he signed with the Alliance of American Football’s Salt Lake Stallions before the Broncos inked him in October.
The Broncos have some young playmakers on offence in Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton plus a strong defence so there’s intriguing potential for Mitchell in Denver.
New York Giants
Everyone in New York knows Eli Manning is nearing the end of his playing career but the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback carries a massive $23-plus million cap hit for 2019. Unless the Giants decide to eat a huge amount of cash, Manning will be on the roster for one more season.
Backup Alex Tanney is undrafted with a small amount of playing time on his resume while Kyle Lauletta had a developmental rookie year.
Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram are dangerous weapons on offence. Defensively, the Giants have some talent but need to improve overall on the field. NYC could provide lots of drama for Mitchell.
Kirk Cousins signed a massive three-year fully guaranteed $84 million contract to be the Vikings starter for 2018, 2019 and 2020. Barring a surprising release due to money, Cousins will remain in Minnesota. Backup Trevor Siemian has starts under his belt but is inconsistent.
The Vikings are set up to turn around quickly from a disappointing season as the offence features proven producers in their prime and a difference-making defence. But the money paid out to Cousins might make Mitchell look elsewhere.
The Bills traded up to select Josh Allen seventh overall in 2018 and he had a progressive rookie season leading Buffalo to believe he is the franchise quarterback of the future. Buffalo recently inked Matt Barkley to a two-year contract extension through the 2020 season and veteran Derek Anderson is a pending unrestricted free agent.
Purely based on the Bills affinity for Allen, the path to playing time could be difficult for Mitchell in Buffalo, especially with the draft capital invested.
Similar to the Bills, Chicago traded up to choose Mitchell Trubisky who has come along quickly, helping the Bears reach the playoffs in his sophomore season. Chase Daniel is a firmly-established backup. Mitchell would be fighting the odds to crack the top two spots in the Windy City, mainly because the presence of a young, rising pivot that Chicago has put many resources into securing and developing.
After some doubters, Andrew Luck has returned to upper echelon status, leading the Colts back to relevance. Indy traded for Jacoby Brissett who originally began his career with the New England Patriots, two highly respected organizations.
Colts offensive coach Marcus Brady, a former CFLer, knows what Mitchell is capable of but the road to the top spot on the QB depth chart is blocked by Luck, although he has had injury issues.