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Is Ottawa Targeting McLeod Bethel-Thompson as Their Next Quarterback?

Should the Redblacks Target 2022 CFL and USFL 2023 passing yards leader McLeod Bethel-Thompson?

On Saturday night Jeremiah Masoli, who signed with the Ottawa Redblacks, as Shawn Burke’s handpicked face of the franchise rebuild, suffered what would amount to another season ending injury after just his 5th game in the Red and Black. This opened the door for Dustin Crum to enter the game, and word is he will start for this upcoming week’s game against Winnipeg. However, the Redblacks as of late have shown a reluctance to start younger quarterbacks. Crum is essentially a rookie, having spent last season on the practice squad and seeing his first action last week. Could the Redblacks turn to a veteran option who is for all intents and purposes a CFL free agent right now?

From the CFL to the USFL and Back Again?

McLeod Bethel-Thompson spent seven seasons in the Canadian Football League, winning two grey cups during his time with the Toronto Argonauts. He would even lead the league in touchdowns in 2019, and passing yards in 2022 while wearing the double blue. 

Then heading into the 2023 season he became a free agent. Toronto was prepared to move on with the younger option they had been grooming behind MBT in Chad Kelly. Kelly was re-signed, and MBT kept the same colors but traded three down football for four, signing with the New Orleans Breakers and working with John DeFilippo a noted quarterback coach he had first crossed paths with before in 2016 with the Philadelphia Eagles just before their Super Bowl run. 

In a calendar year Bethel-Thompson led the CFL, and the USFL in passing yards, playing in 31 total regular/post season games, a feat I’m not sure we have ever seen before or will ever see again. That isn’t to say we won’t see another 2023 USFL quarterback land on a CFL roster to finish the season. From June 16th 2022 until June 18th 2023, MBT threw 915 passes, completing 607 for 7,164 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions and that’s strictly regular season.

He also played in 1 USFL playoff game, and 2 games in the CFL playoffs as well. McLeod has already said he would entertain CFL offers if and when they came, and we happen to know MBT and Jeremiah Masoli are friends, so it’s safe to say the conversation has been had.

Could MBT be the next logical target for a veteran starter in Ottawa with both Tyrie Adams, and Jeremiah Masoli both done for the year? 

MBT has also made it clear that he still has one goal in mind, playing in the NFL. He returned to the United States to be close to family, but also closer to NFL camps, and playing during their offseason hoping to increase his visibility and marketability. Should MBT’s last ditch NFL efforts get “left on read” he’s already said he would entertain CFL offers. It would be foolish not to at least call and see what it would take to get him to Ottawa. The question is, if MBT is waiting for an NFL offer, a cause helped by recent rules changing the exemption status of third quarterbacks, will Ottawa still be in the playoff picture when MBT is ready to ink a contract? 

In theory, a short term CFL contract wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of Bethel-Thompson playing in the USFL in 2024, which is why it’s a nearly foregone conclusion that this was worked into his contract to get him into a USFL contract. This scenario maximizes the earning potential for MBT if the NFL never materializes, and gives him a chance to ride off into the sunset on his own terms with a nice little retirement package from double dipping with the USFL and CFL. For two full seasons in a row. It will take an unbelievable toll on his body, and potentially speed up the end of his career, but it’s also the only way at MBT’s disposal to make NFL practice squad level pay without the contract coming his way. 

It also gives Bethel-Thompson the chance to continue adding to his 16,334 career passing yards and 90 touchdowns collected during his time in the AFL, UFL, CFL, and USFL. He is nearing some tremendous milestones, such as 20,000 yards, and 100 touchdowns. If an NFL contract is the goal, and it never comes to pass those numbers could make for a great consolation prize. 

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@SamShadySports Reporter
I began writing years ago out of an obsession with the NFL. I never intended to take it anywhere but after watching so many others succeed as freelance writers I decided it was worth a shot. I jumped I and have loved every minute of it. I have expanded my content to include YouTube, as well as Twitter Spaces, SoundCloud, and should be launching on Amazon Podcasts soon.


  1. David Tress

    July 11, 2023 at 11:56 am

    Mcloud Bethel-Thompson is looking for an NFL tryout. The Redblacks would be better off to make a formal request to the CFL to have Johnny Manziel reinstated; otherwise they will be stuck in the duldrums of the basement of the CFL with Edmonton.

  2. Donald Smith

    July 12, 2023 at 8:09 am

    At 35 the chances of MBT gaining an NFL roster spot is remote. He should really dedicate himself to the world’s second most prominent league by a wide margin, the CFL.

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