Quarterback Nick Arbuckle is seeking a substantial pay raise.
Arbuckle wants north of $400,000 on his new contract, per sources. Similar to the money the Saskatchewan Roughriders gave quarterback Cody Fajardo on his two-year contract extension through the 2021 season. For the first year of Fajardo’s current pact, his hard money total is $412,000 and bumps to $444,000 in year two plus possible incentives.
“Usually quarterbacks you try to do three years. We haven’t really talked — his agent is Rob Fry — I haven’t talked a ton with Rob about any of that at this point,” Ottawa Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins said regarding contract length and discussions with Arbuckle.
“I have a sense of the dollars, but we’ll see how that plays out. The minimum ideally is three years, but whether we get that done or not I don’t know. But that’ll be up to him and his agent and me with respect to the contract to see if it makes sense for everybody.”
The 26-year-old Arbuckle made the minimum $54,000 in 2019 with a modest $1,000 travel allowance. He also earned $300 for each game he dressed as the No. 1 or No. 2 QB or took 20 snaps. His total take-home prior to taxes was $60,400.
While Bo Levi Mitchell was out of the lineup due to a pectoral injury, Arbuckle posted a 4-3 record as the starting QB for the Calgary Stampeders last season. He completed 174-of-238 passes (73 percent) for 2,103 yards with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions and ran 27 times for 76 yards and four majors.
Compare Arbuckle’s production to that of Fajardo.
The 27-year-old threw for a league-best 4,302 yards while completing over 71 per cent of his passes with 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions. The dual-threat pivot also rushed for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Fajardo was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player and CFL all-star quarterback, guiding the Riders to a 12-4 win-loss mark as QB1.
Ottawa recently traded for the rights to Arbuckle, a pending free agent. If the Redblacks are able to sign Arbuckle to a new contract, Calgary will receive the first overall pick in the 2020 CFL draft. He’s currently scheduled to hit the open market.
Arbuckle visited Ottawa over the weekend and left on Tuesday, January 22. The Redblacks put on a recruiting pitch to get his signature on the dotted line prior to their exclusive negotiating time expiring in February.
“I feel our scenario is just as good as anybody’s, in terms of who we have as our head coach and our offensive coordinator [Paul LaPolice]. But also what we have to offer in terms of our facilities, our environment on the site there, in terms of what the city of Ottawa has to offer,” Desjardins said.
“And you look at what the other options might be and, to me, those don’t compare. There are some places you can go and be the starting quarterback and nobody in that city will know who you are.”
Arbuckle’s performance last year boosted his future earnings potential. There are coaches and personnel men who believe he can lead a CFL franchise. Money talks so let’s see if Ottawa or another team pays up for Arbuckle.