Stampeders’ Dave Dickenson believes QB Tommy Stevens can develop like Chris Streveler

Graphic: 3DownNation (Photo: Larry MacDougal | AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

The Calgary Stampeders seem set to enter the 2023 season without a veteran presence behind quarterback Jake Maier in his first year as a full-time starter. However, head coach and general manager Dave Dickenson sees big potential in his current backup.

Tommy Stevens is projected to take over as the number two QB in his second year with the team. The 26-year-old handled the short-yardage package last season as the third player on the depth chart behind Maier and the departed Bo Levi Mitchell. He will have a head start in the competition according to the man in charge.

“I think so. He did play the last game and did some good things for us,” Dickenson told 3DownNation. “He’s not the same player as Jake in certain aspects of his game, but he can do other things obviously very, very well and now we’ve got to develop and make him that dual threat.”

Stevens began his NCAA career at Penn State, completing 24-of-41 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception while rushing for 506 yards and eight touchdowns in 20 games. He transferred to Mississippi State for his senior season, going 97-of-161 passing for 1,155 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also had 83 carries for 381 yards and four scores.

The six-foot-five, 245-pound passer was a seventh-round selection by the New Orleans Saints in the 2020 NFL Draft but was converted to tight end and waived following his first training camp. He joined the Carolina Panthers later that season and appeared in the regular-season finale, registering four rushing attempts for 24 yards. He later spent time in training camp with the New York Giants.

Stevens played all 18 games after signing with the Stamps in 2022, carrying the ball 56 times for 297 yards and nine touchdowns. He completed six-of-nine pass attempts for 41 yards and one touchdown, but Dickenson believes he could reach the same heights as a notable former CFL quarterback.

“I would like to say a guy like Chris Streveler came into the league and when he started, maybe wasn’t as effective in certain aspects throwing the ball and was a great runner,” he said. “He developed and keeps developing and getting better. I don’t see why Tommy can’t do the same.”

Streveler played two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2018 and 2019, completing 65 percent of his passes for 2,698 yards, 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,167 yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He was especially effective during Winnipeg’s championship run in 2019, rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown in the West Semi-Final before throwing a touchdown pass to Andrew Harris in the Grey Cup.

Streveler signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 and saw action in seven games over the next two seasons, completing 17-of-25 pass attempts for 141 yards, one touchdown, and one interception with seven carries for 21 yards. He later spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens.

The six-foot-one, 216-pound passer was a last-minute addition by the New York Jets ahead of the 2022 season and captured national attention when he led the team to three consecutive preseason wins. He completed 24-of-33 passes for 277 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception while running the ball nine times for 71 yards in what head coach Robert Saleh dubbed “one of the greatest preseasons in the history of football,” but was still released as part of final roster cuts. He later rejoined the team on the practice roster.

Streveler was elevated to the active roster on three occasions and came off the bench late in the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16. He completed 10-of-15 passes for 90 yards while adding a team-high nine carries for 54 yards on the ground in his only action of the season.

He later signed a reserve/futures contract to return to the team in 2023. He has earned over $1.5 million in his NFL career and became fully vested in the league’s pension plan this past season, ensuring $19,800 USD annually for life. Compensation is supposed to increase to $22,000 USD annually in 2025 based on expected upward trends in league revenue.

Stevens’ athletic skillset means that his ceiling is as high as Streveler’s, so long as he can improve as a passer the same way that the 28-year-old has in his time south of the border. The only other quarterback currently on the Stampeders’ roster is Marshall University product Chase Litton, though the team is planning to add to the position group before training camp.

“I like having some guys with maybe different skill sets. I think we still have that with Tommy Stevens and then we need some competition,” Dickenson said. “We need some young blood coming in here and hopefully, show that they belong to play.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.