Age just a number for ‘young’ 30-year-old Riders franchise quarterback Cody Fajardo

Courtesy: AP Photo/Larry MacDougal

The 20s are officially behind Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo.

Fajardo turned 30 on Tuesday, March 29 as he prepares for the 2022 CFL season, which has the Grey Cup scheduled to be played at Mosaic Stadium in late November.

“It’s just a number for him, I think it’s just a number for all of us. If there is such a thing as a young 30, Cody is it. He hasn’t taken a lot of hits, he has taken a few in the last couple seasons,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“He played his college ball in the states, I’m sure he got hit a few times down there, but most of his professional career has been as a backup or third guy.”

The California native drew attention from scouts on both sides of the border at the University of Nevada where he played 45 NCAA games completing 65 percent of his passes for 9,659 yards with 57 touchdowns against 29 interceptions while adding 636 carries for 3,482 yards and 44 touchdowns. He became just the second player in FBS history to reach 9,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing, joining Nevada alum Colin Kaepernick. 

He went unselected in the 2015 NFL Draft, but signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. Following his release from that training camp, Fajardo came north of the border. Prior to coming to the green and white, Fajardo spent one season with the B.C. Lions and two with the Toronto Argonauts, winning a Grey Cup in 2017.

Fajardo initially joined the Roughriders during free agency in 2019 and was thrust into action during the first game of the season. He made his first start at QB the following week and went on to throw for a league-leading 4,302 yards with 18 touchdowns versus eight interceptions while rushing 107 times for 611 yards and another 10 touchdowns.  

In 2021, Fajardo led the team to a 9-5 record and Saskatchewan’s first home playoff win in new Mosaic Stadium. He completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,970 yards with 14 touchdowns against 11 interceptions and rushed 78 times for 468 yards four touchdowns in 13 starts. 

“These last two seasons he’s been a starter, but he hasn’t taken, in my opinion, the number of hits. I think you’re seeing him improve dramatically more so than a guy that’s played a lot of football in his 20s,” Dickenson said.

Fajardo was named a CFL all-star following the 2019 season along with earning the West Division Most Outstanding Player award and he’s twice been voted the Roughriders team MOP. The six-foot-two, 215-pound dual-threat QB has time to add to his accolades and Saskatchewan’s trophy collection.

“I feel like Cody’s best years are ahead of him,” Dickenson said. “I think he would agree with that and we feel like his arrow is straight up, nothing but bright things ahead of him.”

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