It had been in the works for a few months — hot and heavy for the past few weeks — but it finally all came together last night: Jeremy O’Day has officially secured his man to lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders into the future.
“We’re excited. We feel good about Cody,” O’Day said at the press conference announcing a two-year extension for starting quarterback Cody Fajardo. “More importantly, we feel good about the team.”
Fajardo emerged from relative obscurity to lead the Roughriders to an 11-5 record and a chance at a first-place finish and bye to the West Final. For the club’s general manager, it became increasingly obvious that Fajardo had to be the guy long-term.
Fajardo spent three seasons between the Toronto Argonauts (2016-2017) and B.C. Lions (2018) but played sparingly, attempting just 68 career passes.
The 27-year-old has produced consistently for Saskatchewan this season, completing 313-of-438 pass attempts for 3,873 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The dual-threat pivot has been effective on the ground as well, rushing for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns on 106 carries.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Justin Dunk reported them here. Spoiler alert: Fajardo will make a lot more money in 2020 than he did this season.
O’Day felt the deal came together smoothly due in part to the positive conduct of Fajardo’s representation.
“They were great through the whole process,” O’Day said of Fajardo and his agent. “They were respectful of the process. They really wanted to make it sure it wasn’t going to be a distraction for the team.”
“Cody puts the team first, has a lot of respect in the locker room. His positive attributes made [negotiations] go smoothly.”
The California native took over as Saskatchewan’s starting quarterback after incumbent Zach Collaros was injured in the club’s season-opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Fajardo’s impressive play won him the starting job and Collaros was subsequently traded to the Toronto Argonauts.
The Roughriders have been comfortable with Fajardo as their starter for awhile and have hoped to extend his contract for awhile.
“Starting with his character, his leadership skills, and of course his play level through as the season advanced. It became clear and (CEO) Craig (Reynolds) and I both sat down quite awhile ago and said, ‘he’s our guy.'”
The Riders have their quarterback of today and beyond. Now the question becomes whether or not he can deliver a Grey Cup — possible as early as 2019.