The Toronto Argonauts are planning to open the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment vault for quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
According to sources, the Argos have formulated a plan to pitch Mitchell on the opportunity of becoming the face of the franchise in Canada’s largest city and are preparing a contract with a dollar amount to match: in the $750,000 range.
MLSE officially took over ownership of the Argos in December 2017, adding to the sports portfolio that already included the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC. MLSE clearly wants stars to highlight championship-contending teams.
Each of those franchises has used elite players in building title-calibre squads. The Reds signed Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco which led to an MLS Cup in 2017. Last July, the Leafs inked John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract to go with Auston Matthews making the Buds favourites to hoist the Stanley Cup. Seventeen days later, the Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard and at the trade deadline pulled off another large deal to get Marc Gasol for an NBA title run.
Bill Manning has served as Toronto FC president since 2015 and added the Argos role prior to the 2018 season. The Double Blue won a Grey Cup in 2017, but for all the talents Ricky Ray has displayed on the field, outside the white lines he’s an unassuming guy. Ray has ridden the Go Train to games at BMO Field and few if any one recognize the man with four Grey Cup rings.
Mitchell has a winning pedigree: his 69-15-2 regular season win-loss record and .802 winning percentage is the top mark in CFL history (former Argo signal-caller Doug Flutie is second at .746.) Two Grey Cup victories, two CFL MOP awards and a vibrant personality: adding Mitchell fits the current MLSE portfolio in the biggest media market in the country.
The Argos could build a flashy new campaign around Mitchell who is in the prime years of his pro football career and use the MLSE machine to put the NFL-calibre quarterback in front of passionate Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC fans. Mitchell has the chance to create a buzz in Toronto unlike any other player in the CFL while ensuring the Argos compete for the large silver trophy each season.
The Argos already have a solid core of receivers with S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards, Rodney Smith as well as Canadians Malcolm Williams and Llevi Noel. But Mitchell doesn’t need elite pass catchers: he was the first quarterback in league history to throw for over 5,000 yards without having one single pass catcher reach the 1,000-yard plateau in 2018.
Even though paid ticket sales were up at BMO Field last year, Mitchell could further increase the profile of the Argos in Toronto – a boost both the team and the league could capitalize on.