The Saskatchewan Roughriders took a big run at Bo Levi Mitchell, according to general manager Jeremy O’Day.
“We made a significant offer. It has to be a mutual thing. They have to leave the team they’re on, the offer has to fit and they have to feel good about the team they’re going to. We made a significant offer and he decided to stay in Calgary,” O’Day said at a media availability in Regina on Wednesday.
“When you’re trying to get a free agent of that magnitude you have to have different plans that you’re ready to execute. So, naturally, the concern there is the timing, if you’re holding on to a salary of that significance then the timing may cost you to lose players.”
Saskatchewan tried to sell Mitchell on the benefits of playing in Riderville: being the face of the franchise – especially post-playing career when Mitchell could have earned income long his playing days were over – over combined with the benefits of playing in a state of the art facility in front of a rabid fan base.
Mitchell elected to stay in Calgary with the Stampeders, the franchise he’s led to two Grey Cups wins, and the Riders kept Zach Collaros up to date with the plan at quarterback.
“We were pretty clear with Zach on what we were doing. We were going to look into free agency to see how it was going to shake down quarterback-wise and see if we were going to be in the mix. At that point we had our quarterbacks ranked, who we wanted to get in order,” O’Day said.
Collaros was acquired by the Riders in January 2018 from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for a second-round draft pick. Saskatchewan paid Collaros $430,000 last year and the 30-year-old started 14 games for Saskatchewan last season, passing for 2,999 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. However, Collaros missed four games due to two separate concussions. But that didn’t deter O’Day from re-signing Collaros for the 2019 season.
“Zach is our No. 1 quarterback,” O’Day said. “He’s going to come to camp as our No. 1 quarterback.”