Calgary Stampeders trade Bo Levi Mitchell to Hamilton Tiger-Cats

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In return, they received a third-round pick in 2023, a fifth-round pick in 2024 and future considerations

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As Bo Levi Mitchell said last week, the writing was on the wall.

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There was no great secret about his future in Calgary. When the Stampeders chose to re-sign Jake Maier for two more seasons this year, the countdown began on Mitchell’s legendary tenure in Red & White.

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On Monday, it officially came to an end when the Stamps traded away his rights to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

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In return, they received a third-round pick in 2023, a fifth-round pick in 2024 and future considerations.

So the Stamps know they’ll have an improved draft position, while the Ticats get an exclusive window to re-sign one of the biggest stars the CFL has seen over the past decade.

“The writing’s on the wall (when) you pay another guy,” Mitchell said after the Stamps’ West Division Semifinal loss to the B.C. Lions last weekend. “I’m not going to beat around the bush. Obviously things can change, but I think just looking, you can see what’s going on. I’m excited, I’m excited for whatever the next opportunity is. I wish it was here in Calgary, I love the guys and I’ve worked for them and they’ve worked for me tirelessly over the last 11 years. It’s been amazing, I won’t regret a minute of it, but I do look forward to the next (opportunity).”

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Ultimately, while Monday’s move will no doubt feel like the end of an era to Stamps fans, it was entirely foreseeable. Since the very day in September that the Stamps opted to re-sign Maier — who replaced Mitchell as their starter at mid-season — it was clear that Mitchell would not be with the organization next season.

Calgary Stampeders QBs Bo Levi Mitchell and Jake Maier, during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Saturday, September 3, 2022.
Calgary Stampeders QBs Bo Levi Mitchell and Jake Maier, during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Saturday, September 3, 2022. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

The only question was where he’d be. Whatever anyone claims, there was nobody publicly suggesting that the Ticats were at the top of the list of potential destinations.

The Ticats had seemingly committed to Dane Evans as their starting quarterback of the future when they got him to ink a two-year deal in January and while the 28-year-old had an uneven year, there appeared to be other CFL teams who had more pressing needs at quarterback.

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But the Ticats are the team who ultimately got aggressive and made the move. For Stamps fans who were dreading seeing Mitchell in a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey next season, it’s good news, to be sure.

But it’s a bittersweet ending for a player who had spent his entire decade-long career in Calgary.

Mitchell is one of the all-time great Stampeders — a two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player who is also the only quarterback to win two Grey Cups with the Stamps as a starter and the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards, with 32,541.

The team literally put Mitchell into the final regular season game at McMahon Stadium so that fans could have the chance to say thank you, so nobody can claim that it’s a surprise to see his time with the Stamps come to an end.

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But that doesn’t necessarily make it any less sad, although, who knows? It’s entirely possible that Mitchell could be back in Calgary in a different capacity someday.

“I didn’t think it was fair to try to plan the future when you’re trying to focus on the now,” Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson said last week. “Bo and I have a solid relationship, we’re always, trust me, going to be connected and I’m going to let Bo do what Bo needs to do, but he knows I have his back and at some point I’d love to work with him, whether that’s next year or down the road. He’s a guy that’s a Calgary Stampeder for life.”

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And so for now, the Mitchell era ends in Calgary and the Maier era begins.

Presumably, Mitchell will sign with the Ticats over the coming weeks. It’s unlikely they would have swung a trade without some sort of reassurance that Mitchell would be open to committing to a new deal in Hamilton. He’ll come back to Calgary at some point next summer wearing a black and yellow jersey. Stamps fans will thank him again for his service. It will be a nice moment.

For the Stampeders, not much changes in the short-term.

They move on without Mitchell, just like we all knew they would.

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