Cody Fajardo would’ve risked half-million dollar payday without Riders extension

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

It was nearly impossible to envision a scenario where the Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t agree to a contract extension with their starting quarterback.

In the end, Cody Fajardo took a roughly 10 percent pay cut for this coming season in exchange for a lucrative salary north of $500,000 for the following year in 2022.

Let’s not forget the Riders resident rock star QB is still a one-hit wonder. There’s hardly any guarantee that the soon-to-be-29-year-old, who until last season was a career backup, will pick up Jason Maas’ complex offence when the CFL does return to play.

By not agreeing to an extension, Fajardo would’ve risked his half-million dollar payday in a league where those are hard to come by — even for quarterbacks — in a normal non-pandemic universe.

Fajardo’s camp also would’ve felt pressure to follow up with some kind of salary concession. Especially because B.C. Lion pivot Mike Reilly, Calgary Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and Edmonton Football Team QB Trevor Harris accepted their own salary reductions. All of those quarterbacks have proven the ability to perform at a high level longer than Fajardo.

From the Riders’ standpoint, general manager Jeremy O’Day could’ve felt pressure from not only team management, but the league office to get his franchise player to fall in line with the other quarterbacks accepting pay cuts. O’Day also had plenty of motivation to use the COVID-19 crisis as a chance to lock up his team’s most prized possession.

In a nutshell, this just made far too much sense not to happen. Now more than ever, Rider Nation needs something to get excited about.

In a conference call recorded by Regina’s 980 CJME radio, Fajardo admitted from his home in Reno, Nevada, where he’s coaching high school quarterbacks, that he’s missing football so much he even threw a ball at a trash can in his backyard after signing.

If the sports world collapses a little more and the wait is another year for the CFL to come back, don’t be surprised if we see the two sides rework the contract to extend it yet again. And that would certainly slam the door shut on any NFL plans for Fajardo.

For both the Riders, and the Fajardo, at this point, that might be the best case scenario.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.