The Minnesota Vikings were at least honest with Bo Levi Mitchell.
The reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player worked out in Minnesota last December with head coach Mike Zimmer present. By all accounts, Mitchell impressed the Vikes’ coaches and personnel men, displaying the arm strength and accuracy everyone in Canada knows well.
Mitchell met with a “specific person” after the on-field session. He was telling the two-time Grey Cup winner how much Minnesota liked him and asked why he wanted to leave the CFL. The 29-year-old replied by stating he was the right age, but wouldn’t sign for anything less than his specified amount of guaranteed money. The Vikings’ staffer asked Mitchell how he could help the team win.
“I was like ‘well, for one, I’ve never been anywhere in football and not won a championship as a starter. High school, DI, DI-AA, now here in the CFL. Everywhere I’ve ever been I’ve won a championship within the first three years I’ve been there. I can help you do that. I’m going to come in here, I’m going to take Kirk’s [Cousins] job,'” Mitchell said on The Bo Show which airs on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary.
Kirk Cousins signed the NFL’s first fully guaranteed contract in March 2018 with the Vikings worth $84 million over three years. During the first season of the deal, Cousins completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Minnesota went 8-7-1 and missed the post-season.
“He was like ‘oh, no, no, n-n-n-no, we don’t want you to take Kirk’s job.’ We want you to come in here, help him with his eyes, tell him what you see, do everything you can to make him a better quarterback. But we need a good quarterback room, we don’t want you to cause controversy. At that moment I was like ‘well, I’m not signing with the Minnesota Vikings,'” Mitchell said.
“I don’t understand that thought process. All that tells me is there’s a culture in that building right now that ‘hey, your job is secure because of the money we paid you. Don’t worry about anything you do or the decisions you make or anything the media says, just do what we tell you to do and you’re going to be fine.’ It’s mind-blowing. You don’t even want a guy that’s pushing him or creating competition.”
Following workouts with seven NFL teams, Mitchell signed a four-year contract worth almost $3 million to keep playing for the Calgary Stampeders. The deal made Mitchell the second-highest paid player in the CFL after B.C. Lions’ QB Mike Reilly who signed a four-year pact with the B.C. Lions worth $2.9 million. Mitchell has continued his signature gun-slinging style north of the border, the same mentality he would’ve used in Minnesota.
“I’m going to push the ball down — I would’ve came in and I’d have been throwing the ball deep every single play. If you put me with Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph — sorry, Dalvin Cook, but the ball is going down the field. You’re creating a culture — don’t create competition,” Mitchell said.
“I can see why Adam Thielen is frustrated. Because Adam Thielen is saying in practice I’m wide open down the field or I’m beating this guy by two steps, why is our $84 million dollar quarterback not accurate enough to get me the ball or get me a chance?”
Calgary is where Mitchell developed into a franchise player and the Stampeders’ franchise quarterback stayed in Cowtown to build a long-lasting legacy. Minnesota missed out on a confident quarterback who would’ve given his all to be a star in the NFL due to the financial commitments and politics of the league.