The Hamilton Tiger-Cats swung for the fences just one week after being eliminated from the playoffs in November, trading for the exclusive negotiating rights to future Canadian Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell from the Calgary Stampeders.
Ticats head coach and president of football operations, Orlondo Steinauer confirmed that the team continues to work towards signing Mitchell to an extension, though he declined to offer any further details regarding the process.
“We’re still working to getting a deal done and so that’s what I would say about it,” Steinauer said. “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to speak on exactly how things are going or how they’ve went or how optimistic or unoptimistic or those things. That’d be a disservice to Bo and his representation and also to ourselves. I’m happy to say that it’s ongoing and we’re still looking to get something done.”
The Tabbies hosted Mitchell and his wife, Madison, for a visit in December to show them the team’s facilities as well as other amenities around the city. Steinauer is hopeful that the visit has given Mitchell an idea of how it would feel not only to play for the club but how he and his young family could flourish in Steeltown.
“The football aspect is one thing but to see where you’re going to be, to have a look at the facility, to sit down and talk with people, to look people in the eye, to put the business side apart and bring the human element in I think was extremely important. I feel like that went well and at the end of the day, it’s information for him just as much as it is information for us and we just thought that was an important step once we acquired his rights.”
Hamilton still has QB Dane Evans under contract through the 2023 season, though the 29-year-old passer is coming off a disappointing season during which he threw a league-worst 16 interceptions. Evans posted a video of moving trucks outside of his Hamilton home on social media at the end of November, two weeks after the Ticats acquired Mitchell’s rights from Calgary.
Steinauer indicated that the team made Evans aware of a potential trade before it was finalized in an effort to be transparent with him regarding their plans for the future.
“I think he took it like any competitor, he was very professional. I think the one thing is just transparency. This isn’t something that Dane was going to read coming across the ticker or anything, this was a conversation that we had once we knew there was going to be some real traction in acquiring Bo’s rights and that’s all you can really do,” said Steinauer.
“You can’t worry about if it’s popular or not, all you can really do is respect the person and not look at them as a player. We had those conversations before anybody else knew of this publicly and that’s all you can do. At the end of the day, he was very professional about it and he took it the way anybody would take information like that.”
Steinauer also declined to comment on whether or not teams have called regarding the possibility of trading for Evans. He has one season left on his current contract but isn’t due any money until training camp.
It remains to be seen how the situation in Hamilton will play out as Mitchell has previously indicated that he wants to go to free agency before signing his next contract. In the event that he doesn’t sign an extension with the Ticats, it seems like Steinauer still wouldn’t regret making the deal with Calgary.
“If we hadn’t have went through that scenario and realized that could be a possibility, it could have been a little reckless of us but at the same time, it’s called free agency for a reason and it’s not just at this position, it’s at a lot of positions. Sometimes you’re gonna make things happen and sometimes you’re not. We’ve put our foot forward and there will be no regret on anything.”
Time is ticking for the Ticats as free agency opens on Tuesday, February 14.