Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day doesn’t want quarterback Cody Fajardo to feel the pressure from prairie sky-high expectations.
Following a CFL all-star season in 2019, the Riders faithful believe Fajardo can be an elite QB in the three-down league who can have his team competing for the Grey Cup each season. O’Day wants Fajardo to just focus on playing football like he’s done for a long time.
“Really relax and understand that the weight of the world isn’t on your shoulders. He just needs to be himself and ignore the rest,” the 46-year-old GM said.
In 2019, 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. The dual-threat pivot used his legs for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 rushing attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
“You could definitely notice that he was seizing the moment of his opportunity. In 2019 if you remember, I don’t remember what game it was but the media started putting out articles on we should get him re-signed,” O’Day said.
That one-year contract Fajardo had inked for 2019 paid him $86,800 in hard money with incentives available. He made nearly every possible dollar, which totalled around $150,000 for the man who quickly became the face of the franchise. It was a bargain rate for his performance in a season where Saskatchewan went 13-5 and made it to the West Final.
“I think it was a little bit on his mind. Also, with us, we wanted to make sure that it was the right time to talk to him, but as the year went on, in discussing with him, he felt like he wanted to try to get a contract done sooner than later,” O’Day said.
“I think it was a relief for him to get that done when we did. Hopefully he’s able to relax and worry just about football. Not worry about contract status, he’s got the opportunity in front of him now.”
O’Day can tell Fajardo has “really enjoyed being the guy” during training camp. While he simply wants to see Fajardo continue to progress and use his positive attitude to lead the Riders in the 2021 season.