Riders ‘not in discussions’ on extension for QB Cody Fajardo: GM Jeremy O’Day

Courtesy: AP Photo/Larry MacDougal

Saskatchewan Roughriders starting quarterback Cody Fajardo is entering a contract year, but the organization is in no rush to try and ink him to a long-term extension.

In an appearance on 980 CJME’s The Green Zone, Riders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day told listeners that there had been no conversations yet about keeping the popular pivot in Regina, with external factors getting in the way.

“We’re not in discussions on an extension at the current time. Obviously there’d be an appropriate time for us to do that, but it’s more of a situation where there’s a new collective bargaining agreement coming up,” O’Day said.

“We thought that it was in the best interest of both parties that we would just restructure the contract, move some things around a little bit to help us a bit on the salary cap and then let’s revisit it when the time’s right.”

Fajardo agreed to a restructured contract in late January, taking a $24,000 pay cut on paper in exchange for a $170,000 signing bonus. Due to the intricacies of cross-border tax laws, the exchange will ultimately net Fajardo a similar amount to what he could have expected prior, with the Riders receiving all the savings.

The quarterback’s current deal will pay him $467,000 in hard money this season, with a maximum value of $485,000 if certain performance benchmarks are met. That makes Fajardo the second highest-paid player in the league behind reigning Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros, but he is still set to become a free agent after the 2022 season.

By O’Day’s admission, the expiring collective bargaining agreement between the league and the CFLPA has limited the two sides’ ability to talk long-term, with the CFL’s future salary cap parameters completely up in the air. The Riders don’t want to overspend on a potentially tight cap and Fajardo’s camp wants to maximize the quarterback’s earnings if it goes up, but it is worth noting that his current renegotiated deal came to fruition without knowing the 2022 salary cap either.

Fajardo, who turned 30 on March 29, is entering his CFL quarterbacking prime, but has yet to get the Riders over the hump in his two seasons at the helm. After throwing for a league-leading 4,302 yards with 18 touchdowns versus eight interceptions and rushing for 611 yards and another 10 touchdowns as the West Division’s MOP nominee in his first season, Fajardo followed it up with 2,970 yards passing and 14 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, while rushing 78 times for 468 yards four touchdowns over 13 starts in 2021. 

The Riders’ dual-threat franchise leader faced criticism about his ability to hit the deep throw last year and opened up about the negative impact that social media critiques have had on him, but still managed to lead Saskatchewan to their first home playoff win in new Mosaic Stadium.

There are some around the league who question Fajardo’s ability to be a top-tier starter and the delayed negotiations could allow the Riders to see how their chosen one bounces back with a normal offseason. However, the team remains vocal that the Nevada product will be their guy going forward.

“We certainly feel good about Cody as our quarterback and hopefully he feels the same way about being here still,” O’Day said. “I believe that’s the case, but there’ll be a right time to do [an extension].”