The Tiger-Cats off-season started after ending the 2022 season with an 8-10 record and an East Semi-Final loss in Montreal. Hamilton jumped out to a fast start by making a move to trade 2 future CFL Draft Picks and “future considerations” for the remaining portion of Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
The initial response was a wave of excitement that the Tiger-Cats appeared to have the plan to upgrade their offence after a season of inconsistency and turnovers. But what the Tiger-Cats traded for was the rights for Mitchell until the start of free agency in February. So essentially the personnel move meant that Hamilton got the first shot to convince Bo Levi Mitchell to join the Tiger-Cats roster. It is starting to become clear that Bo Levi Mitchell may or may not be on board with joining the Tiger-Cats in 2023.
This situation leaves a cloudy picture for the Tiger-Cats quarterback position. This is not the first time that the Tiger-Cats have made unusual decisions at quarterback. Let’s take a look at the recent history of decisions that Hamilton has made relative to their quarterback.
In 2016 the Tiger-Cats were in a very similar position to where they are currently. Hamilton had a 7-11 season and had a young Zach Collaros (2-time Grey Cup winner with Winnipeg) as their starting quarterback with Jeremiah Masoli as his backup. In 2017 the Tiger-Cats stumbled to a 0-5 start, and the organization brought on veteran head football coach June Jones to act as a consultant and find ways for the Tiger-Cats to take the next step to be a championship team.
After an 0-8 start, Jones was named as the head coach. Also during that slow start, Zach Collaros suffered a knee injury and Jeremiah Masoli was named the starting quarterback. Masoli was a good fit for Jones’ Run and Shoot offence, and he played at a high level. In 2019 Masoli helped lead the Tiger-Cats to a 15-3 record and a Grey Cup championship appearance (losing to Winnipeg). Due to COVID-19, the 2020 season was canceled, and in 2021 Masoli returned as the starter but struggled at times.
Those struggles opened the door for backup quarterback Dane Evans to step in a split time with Masoli. Once again the Tiger-Cats made it to the 2021 Grey Cup championship game (losing to Winnipeg once again).
In preparation for the 2022 season, the Tiger-Cats decided to not re-sign Masoli and commit to Dane Evans as their starting quarterback. The Tiger-Cats offence had a poor start highlighted by a large number of turnovers and blown leads in the 2nd half of games. Evans seemed to have also of trouble with the transition from backup quarterback to being the starter.
Which opened the door for backup Matt Shiltz to step in and split the time and contribute to the offence. Throughout the season Evans, Shiltz, and 3rd string quarterback Jamie Newman had inconsistent results, and turning the ball over continued to be a problem for the Hamilton offence.
Bo Levi Mitchell
To start the off-season Hamilton decided to trade the rights to the remaining contract for Bo Levi Mitchell. Unfortunately, it appears that the Tiger-Cats did not consult with Mitchell before making this move. During the 2nd half of the 2022 season, there were rumors that Mitchell would like to make a move to become the quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Currently, Michell’s official stance is that he wants to be with a team that has an offensive coordinator that he believes will help him lead the team to a Grey Cup championship. Currently, the Roughriders are in the process of interviewing candidates to be their 2023 offensive coordinator, and the Tiger-Cats current OC Tommy Condell has been under fire due to the 2022 offensive struggles.
This seems to leave the Tiger-Cats with more questions than answers about their quarterback position. It has been rumored that the decision to make a move for Bo Levi Mitchell may have created a rift with Dane Evans, which is technically the starting quarterback for the Tiger-Cats. With Hamilton hosting the 2023 Grey Cup championship, it will be interesting to see how the Tiger-Cats address this quarterback decision.
If Mitchell decides to be with Saskatchewan, the Tiger-Cats will have to determine if they can still have Evans as their starting quarterback. If not, Hamilton will need to consider some of the other available quarterbacks including Roughriders QB Cody Fajardo, Alouettes QB Trevor Harris (who will be a free agent in February), and Argonauts backup quarterback Chad Kelly (who helped lead the 2022 Argonauts to a 2022 Grey Cup win).
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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