People often joke that NFL backup quarterbacks might be the best job in the world. Stand on the sideline, watch someone else get hit and keep taking seven-figure cheques to the bank. It sounds like every office worker’s dream.
It’s just not Cody Fajardo’s.
The popular Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback signed a lucrative contract extension totaling $512,000 in hard money on Tuesday, locking himself in as the CFL club’s franchise QB through the 2022 season. While he may have had the chance to try his luck in the NFL after this season, Fajardo has little interest in taking his talents south of the border right now.
“The money is there in the NFL but to stand on the sideline and hold a clipboard for a couple extra thousands of dollars, I don’t know if it’s worth it,” Fajardo told Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post. “Nobody wants to stand on the sideline and hold a clipboard because you want to actually play and use your talents.”
It’s not the first time that the affable pivot has kicked the NFL rat race down the road. Despite some try-out interest this summer, Fajardo elected not to opt out of his contract with the Riders to pursue those opportunities. Now he’s on board for two more seasons in Riderville with too much unfinished business to think about the NFL.
“I’ve talked about how indebted I am to the CFL so I can’t make that decision right now,” Fajardo said. “Hopefully I have two amazing years, win two Grey Cup championships and two MVPs. That’s the goal and I know that it’s a fantasy, but it can come true and we’ll see how the next two years play out.”
Fajardo has all the talent in the world to make that dream a reality. In his first season as a starter, he 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. The dual-threat pivot used his legs for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 rushing attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Fajardo originally signed an extension with the club at the end of the 2019 season, cashing in a $175,000 roster bonus last February that amounted to more than his total earnings as a starter in 2019. While the cancellation of the 2020 season didn’t hit Fajardo as hard financially as some other players, he still feels it denied his team a golden opportunity.
“The 2020 team on paper was one of the most talented teams that I think the league would have ever seen,” Fajardo said. “It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to see how it all played out.”
The CFL all-star quarterback was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player in his first full season as a starter but Fajardo won’t be satisfied until he brings a Grey Cup to Regina. It’s no coincidence that his new contract runs through the 2022 season, when the Riders are set to host the big game on home soil. In the meantime, his focus is entirely on the three down game and Fajardo is hoping the league can come back with a bang this season.
“I want to get the CFL rolling again and hopefully create some revenue for the team going forward in 2022,” he said. “I’m in it for the CFL to flourish and I want this league to be as great as it can be. I’ve said it time and time again that without this league I wouldn’t be playing football. I would probably be working in some office job or something like that, so I’m very grateful to be in the CFL.”