Orlondo Steinauer, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ president of football operations and head coach, used his season-ending media availability on Monday to address the comments Bo Levi Mitchell made regarding his future following the East Semi-Final.
“I don’t have any comments on Bo’s comments, but what I love about Bo is he speaks from the heart and he’s gonna wear everything on his sleeve,” Steinauer told the media in Hamilton. “I think that if you asked him, there was a longer conversation there. I think it was taken in the context that anybody wants to take it in. Bo was in my office for 30 minutes yesterday and it was just like we were sitting there having a beer, so there’s no challenge there.”
Mitchell backed up Matthew Shiltz during Hamilton’s 27-12 loss to the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday and didn’t enter the game until the latter half of the fourth quarter. The 33-year-old completed one-of-four pass attempts for six yards and one interception and indicated after the game that he wasn’t surprised by how little playing time he’d received. Though Steinauer said during the practice week that both quarterbacks would play, it’s clear that he planned to almost exclusively go with Shiltz.
The two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player indicated that he didn’t foresee himself being back in Steeltown next year despite being under contract with the team through 2025. Mitchell is the highest-paid player on the team and the second-highest-paid player in the entire league, yet the club elected to mostly leave him on the bench come playoff time. He missed 12 regular season games due to injury but indicated on Saturday that he was fully healthy and ready to play in the East Semi-Final.
Though it appears Steinauer and Mitchell remain on good terms, he also didn’t give the two-time Grey Cup champion a ringing endorsement when asked about his future.
“Bo’s a Ticat right now. He’s under contract. The way things worked out this year, it wasn’t ideal for anybody, including Bo,” said Steinauer. “But we didn’t sign Bo to a one-year deal, right? So, Bo’s a Ticat and that’s what it is right now.”
The veteran coach’s comments were eerily similar to those he made last off-season when then-franchise quarterback Dane Evans remained under contract after the Ticats had signed Mitchell to a long-term extension following his acquisition from Calgary.
“Dane’s under contract with us and we’ve had conversations long since we’ve acquired the rights (to Mitchell),” Steinauer said in January. “Right now, Dane’s a Hamilton Tiger-Cat and the next steps will be determined in the near future.”
Evans was traded to the B.C. Lions the following month where he has since served as the backup to Vernon Adams Jr.
It’s clear that Steinauer still feels positively about the culture that’s been cultivated in Hamilton despite another early exit from the playoffs. Though it remains unclear if he will be back in his leadership role with the team in 2024, it appears likely that Mitchell has played his final game as a member of the Tiger-Cats.