The careers of Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo and current Cowboys’ starter Garrett Gilbert are surprisingly intertwined.
Both men were waived by NFL franchises following training camp in 2015.
Fajardo was set to ink a practice squad deal with the Raiders, while Gilbert was let go by the Lions. General manager Reggie McKenzie changed his mind when Gilbert was available, signing him to the practice squad contract that had been set aside for Fajardo.
That meant Fajardo was set free and one month later he went to the Canadian Football League.
“Garrett Gilbert is the reason I got cut from the Raiders. I had the practice squad job set-up, they were going to sign me to the practice squad. The Raiders pick him up and they released me — he was the reason I got cut from the Raiders,” Fajardo said on 620 CKRM’s The SportsCage.
Gilbert was added to the Riders’ exclusive negotiation list on May 25, 2016, the day after he was waived by the Oakland Raiders. He was a free agent for the rest of that year. Chris Jones flew Gilbert in for a workout in Regina during the CFL season, however, he wanted to wait on potential NFL opportunities.
If Gilbert had signed with Saskatchewan, perhaps he’d be the face of the franchise — not Fajardo — instead of starting for the Cowboys. If McKenzie had kept his word, perhaps Fajardo would still be in the NFL. Gilbert and Fajardo were teammates to Raiders’ No. 1 QB Derek Carr.
“Carr is someone I’ve watched pretty much his entire career, competed against, I’ve been in the same locker room. Just his demeanor and how he goes about it — playing for the Raiders is one of the most nerve-wracking teams to play for because there is so much pressure and expectation,” Fajardo said.
Carr has proven himself as a starter with the Raiders and Fajardo has done the same with the Riders. Gilbert now has a chance to do the same with the Cowboys.