All the feels: Riders’ GM Jeremy O’Day has ‘strong feelings’ for QB Cody Fajardo

The Saskatchewan Roughriders want a long-term relationship with quarterback Cody Fajardo.

General manager Jeremy O’Day made Fajardo a four-year offer during contract negotiations last fall. The sides eventually agreed on a two-year deal which runs through the 2021 season.

“Cody was on a one-year deal and I couldn’t go down to the store to pump gas without someone stopping me and asking me about when we’re going to re-sign Cody,” O’Day said on 620 CKRM’s The SportsCage.

“The NFL was still something that was on his mind, and rightfully so. The season that he was having at the time, and that he finished, was a very strong season. If he had another strong season in 2020 then who knows what could’ve happened.”

For the first year of that pact, Fajardo’s hard money total was $412,000, although he received less than half his salary due to the cancellation of the 2020 season. It’s scheduled to bump to $444,000 in year two, but spending to the salary cap floor instead of the ceiling in 2021 could reduce his salary.

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“Those negotiations when they did happen, we’re in a different circumstance now than we were then, on both sides. We definitely feel good about him, there’s nothing that would’ve changed our opinion over this year off that’s for sure,” O’Day said.

“I feel like that definitely hasn’t changed when we have our conversations about the future of our organization. Once there is some certainty and we know the lay of the land — the relationship with him is strong.”

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.

“We certainly have strong feelings for Cody. That hasn’t changed since the last time we had to negotiate a contract with him. I hope that Cody knows how we feel about him as a player, as a leader, and as a person,” O’Day said.

Unfortunately for Fajardo, the CFL voted to cancel the season this year, citing COVID-19 as the main reason. That meant no chance for the rising star to backup his league all-star campaign from 2019. Even with the financial ramifications of the virus around the league along with uncertainty about revenue in the future, the Riders want Fajardo locked in for the long-term.

“After an offer is made you get to really fine tune it and see what the thought process is for both sides, and see what the best agreement is going to be,” O’Day said.

“Those are interesting conversations that we’ll definitely have with Cody and his representation.”

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