Riders general manager Jeremy O’Day sent quarterback Zach Collaros to the Argos for a draft pick.
Saskatchewan’s top football decision-maker explained the genesis and reasons for the trade.
Question: How did the trade happen?
O’Day: We were contacted by Toronto just a short while ago within the last week about if Zach would be available for trade or not and that continued on. Some of it was based off of where Zach was at and then also you hard to work out the deals of the trade as well.
Q: Where was Collaros at in terms of his recovery from the concussion he sustained in Week 1?
O’Day: Zach just in the last couple days has reported that he doesn’t have any more symptoms of the concussion and he’s also passed his baseline testing.
Q: When did you make the choice to move on from Collaros as the Riders’ quarterback?
O’Day: It’s a combination of things when you look at where we’re at and how we’re playing and how Cody’s doing with the offence, it certainly makes the decision a little bit easier.
Q: Does the deal mean Cody Fajardo is the guy at QB?
O’Day: Cody will be the guy moving forward as our quarterback.
Q: Did you gamble on re-signing Collaros in free agency due to his concussion history?
O’Day: We knew the risks that were involved with signing Zach back. We certainly didn’t expect it to happen a play or two into the season. It happened a little bit sooner than we anticipated. Unfortunately it did happen and allowed a guy his opportunity to come in and play.
Q: Were you reluctant to put Collaros back on the field?
O’Day: We didn’t cross that bridge. We were at the point where it was getting close because he was still on the six-game and the conversation wasn’t at that point. Our first initial response to his injury was let’s worry about his health and get him back. Zach was very adamant that he wanted to continue playing – days after, weeks after – and even now he wants to continue playing so we didn’t have to cross that path.
Q: Did you explore possible trades for Collaros?
O’Day: Nope. We didn’t go down that route and simply because there’s a process for him to get healthy. We didn’t think that was the right thing to do and we had to wait to see how things were going to play out as far as Zach wanting to play – his health – before we decided anything. The timing just happened with Toronto reaching out at that time and even the discussion carrying on for a couple days that eventually led us up to sitting down and having a serious discussion about it.
Q: Was Toronto the only team to contact you about a potential Collaros acquisition?
O’Day: Toronto was the only team that I heard from.
Q: How do you assess Collaros’ time with the Riders?
O’Day: Early on when he got here I think there was a little bit of uncertainty whether he was the guy or not. Whether he was going to be 100 per cent Zach go ahead and be our starting quarterback. When we made the decision to come back we made it clear that it’s your team to go out and be the starting quarterback and we wanted to put some young, talented quarterbacks behind him that would have the potential to grow and if there was an injury then they could step forward. Overall you certainly don’t anticipate or hope that anything like this happens. Maybe you wish that we were able to keep him healthy a little bit more. The thing that everyone forgets is the shots that Zach took were illegal hits, they were not normal football hits. That’s the disappointing part of it.
Q: Would you have been comfortable putting him back in for the Riders?
O’Day: That’s a hypothetical question that we didn’t sit down and 100 per cent have to make that decision at that time. We were going to go through the process and see if Zach was back healthy, make sure that his mindset is where it is and if the player’s telling you that he wants to play and he’s medically cleared, then you have a decision to make.
Q: How difficult was the decision to trade Collaros?
O’Day: Sometimes you have to take the personal side out of it. It’s hard to do that. It makes it all the more difficult, even the conversation of sending anyone to a different team. Once you decide it’s the best thing for the organization and for the team, then you’re really just trying to see what kind of value you can get.
Q: How concerned were you with Collaros’ future after his latest hit to the head?
O’Day: You’re always concerned anytime a player has concussions, you’re worried about him. There’s no exact science to it. There’s no direct you’ve had a certain amount of concussions and now you can’t play anymore. There’s been players that had a lot of concussions that went on and played a number of years after that didn’t get concussions anymore. And then there’s some that continue to get concussions. Naturally you are concerned about a players’ health anytime.
Q: How did Collaros react to the trade?
O’Day: I think he was mixed feelings probably. He bought into our team and when you’re a quarterback it’s a pretty big part of the team and there’s a lot of people that look up to you. It’s a change and I don’t know if he was thinking about it. Zach was a pro, he handled it as good as possible, he had questions about it. As an athlete you quickly turn to the situation you’re in and now he’s probably thinking about where he fits with Toronto.