Stampeders $100,000 decision: Bo Levi Mitchell’s six-game cap savings

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Dave Dickenson admitted he doesn’t care about saving money and health is the reason why Bo Levi Mitchell will stay on the six-game injured list until its full duration.

When it comes to Calgary’s star quarterback and the Stampeders, as per usual there is a proper reason.

Bo Levi Mitchell earned $300,000 for signing on the dotted line of his four-year contract in Calgary. The reigning CFL MOP carries a base salary of $335,000 which breaks down to $18,611.11 per game. It was a $111,666.66 decision whether to play Mitchell against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The other $40,000 comes in housing ($21,000), travel ($10,000) and what equates to a per game roster bonus of $500. That totals $675,000 for 2019.

Nick Arbuckle’s compensation is a fraction of Mitchell’s. The backup’s base salary comes in at the minimum $54,000 with a modest $1,000 in travel allowances and $300 for each game he dresses as the No. 1 or No. 2 QB or takes 20 snaps. Whether Arbuckle starts or not the Stampeders pay him the same amount of money.

Arbuckle has helped Calgary stay in contention for the West Division title through his five starts, posting a 4-1 record. That doesn’t include the fourth quarter comeback Arbuckle led against B.C. in Week 3 when he completed 9-of-9 passes for 93 yards and the game-winning touchdown to Eric Rogers. Mitchell collected that win for statistical keeping purposes.

The 25-year-old Arbuckle is currently scheduled to become a free agent in February 2020. His performance has boosted his future earnings potential and now some personnel men believe Arbuckle could lead a CFL franchise. Arbuckle has completed over 72 per cent of his passes with twice as many touchdowns compared to interceptions (6 to 3).

Dickenson knows there is no pressure to rush Mitchell back into the line-up because of the growing confidence in Arbuckle. But the Stamps have more horse power when the two-time Grey Cup champion and CFL MOP commands the offence.

From a roster construction perspective, the Stampeders leaving Mitchell on the injured list for one more game allows Calgary to keep some extra money, perhaps for a player who doesn’t make an NFL roster with CFL experience.

General manager John Hufnagel has not been a big bidder in free agency, but Chris Matthews and Eric Rogers are examples where he inked players coming off NFL stints. There are a handful of former Stamps in NFL training camps — linebackers Alex Singleton and Jameer Thurman, defensive end Jason Vaughters and receiver Marken Michel.

Calgary’s defence seems stacked already at every level even with all the changes. So saving cash for an upgrade on that side of the ball might not necessarily be needed. But sitting Mitchell once more gives further financial flexibility for possible upgrades and additions through the stretch run.

All Dickenson and the franchise are focused on is the Grey Cup, which is being hosted in Calgary. And the game against Winnipeg could be crucial for home field advantage in the playoffs. That’s why Dickenson would have spent the salary cap dollars to have Mitchell on the field leading Calgary if the franchise felt he was 100 per cent.

Mitchell feels ready to let it rip, but Dickenson and Hufnagel are prone to making prudent reads as former quarterbacks themselves — along renowned doctor Neal ElAttrache. Giving the gunslinger one more week before climbing back in the saddle should benefit Bo in the long term.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.