Riders originally offered Cody Fajardo a four-year contract extension

Photo courtesy: Matt Smith CFL.ca

The Saskatchewan Roughriders wanted to sign Cody Fajardo for the four-seeable future.

General manager Jeremy O’Day first presented a four-year offer when the two sides started contract extension discussions last fall.

“My first initial offer from the team was a four-year deal and I committed to a two-year deal. For me personally, there was interest in me getting back to the NFL. I felt if I locked myself into a four-year deal, I might miss an opportunity being 28 and now I’m in my early 30s and I might miss it,” Fajardo said.

“I personally realize how much in debt I am to the CFL and without the CFL I wouldn’t be playing football currently. At the time and place, my agent and I felt it was best to roll with a two-year deal, continue to prove myself as a solidified starter and top player in this league.”

The final agreement was a two-year pact signed in October 2019, which included: a base salary of $225,000; active roster bonus on February 1, 2020 for $175,000; $18,000 playtime incentives ($1,000 per game for playing 51 percent or more of the offensive snaps); $12,000 housing ($2,000 per month June to November); $2,000 West Division all-star; $3,000 CFL all-star and $5,000 league Most Outstanding Player.

The figures look as follows for 2021: $250,000 base salary; active roster bonus on February 1, 2021 for $180,000; $12,000 housing ($2,000 per month June to November); $2,000 travel allowance; $2,000 West Division all-star; $3,000 CFL all-star and $5,000 league Most Outstanding Player.

For the first year of the new pact, Fajardo’s hard money total was $412,000, though he received less than half his salary due to the cancellation of the 2020 season. That bumps to $444,000 in year two and more money could be put in the 28-year-old’s pocket if the Riders convert the active roster bonuses into signing bonuses for the new year.

It’s a substantial raise on what Fajardo made in 2019. His one-year deal was a bargain, paying him $86,800 in hard money. Fajardo made nearly every possible dollar on his contract last season, which totaled around $150,000 for the starting quarterback.

Fajardo led the Riders to a 12-4 record throwing for a CFL-leading 4,302 yards while completing over 71 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions in his first season as a No. 1 QB. The dual-threat pivot used his legs for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 rushing attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player after he came within a goalpost of taking the green and white to the Grey Cup.

“It felt like after one solid year signing a four-year deal was just a long commitment for me and I was really surprised the team offered that,” Fajardo said. “For me it was betting on myself, I wanted to have two solid years to play well and then renegotiate after that.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.