Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo has plenty to fight for over the final weeks of the regular season.
Not only is he trying to lead his team to a playoff berth for his third consecutive year, but Fajardo is also looking to secure a new contract.
“A lot of guys are fighting for a lot of things and we’re fighting for a playoff spot, guys fighting for jobs, myself included being in a contract year. That’s not to be overstated,” he told the media in Regina.
“I’m out here to try to win football games and put us in the best situation to make the playoffs but also to provide for my family for hopefully a couple more years after this but you never know. There’s a lot of uncertainty with football but I’m going to lay everything on the line for these next four games and hopefully we can clinch ourselves a playoff spot.”
Fajardo restructured his contract with Saskatchewan ahead of the 2022 season, taking a $170,000 signing bonus in exchange for a small pay cut. He is set to become a free agent in February 2023 along with a number of other veteran quarterbacks including Zach Collaros, Bo Levi Mitchell, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, and Trevor Harris.
The Riders finished atop the West Division in 2019 after Fajardo led them to a 13-5 record, the team’s best since 1970. The green and white lost the West Final to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by a touchdown but returned to the postseason in 2021 after going 9-5 in the regular season. Saskatchewan won the West Semi-Final over the Calgary Stampeders in overtime before narrowly losing the West Final in Winnipeg by a score of 21-17.
The 30-year-old addressed the adversity the team has faced this year and believes it will only make the celebration more joyous if the team is able to win the Grey Cup at home in November.
“Injuries, people not behind us 100 percent, going through losses, close losses, some great wins, just a lot of highs and lows. That’s what football is, it’s a lot of peaks and valleys. I feel like we’ve been in a valley a little bit longer than we’ve been on some peaks but to tell you the truth, the mental toughness: I’ve never seen anything like it in that locker room of the guys and what they’ve dealt with and what we’ve dealt with,” Fajardo said.
“At the end of the day, if we find ourselves in the Grey Cup game and win a Grey Cup, it’s going to be one of the greatest stories I think ever in the history of the franchise of what we went through to get to that situation. That’s our goal and that’s been our goal since Week 1 and it doesn’t change now just because we’re sitting fourth in the standings.”
Fajardo has faced more criticism this season than he has in past years and recently expressed his disappointment about being booed at home. He realizes that being the face of the franchise in Saskatchewan comes with added pressure and believes the scrutiny has helped him become more mature.
“You’ve gotta be pretty damn mentally tough to be the starting quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders because there’s a lot of highs and lows like I talked about but those lows feel a lot lower than the highs feel and throughout the course of my three years here I’ve seen it all,” Fajardo said.
“I’ve seen people praising me, I’ve seen people hating on me and it goes with the territory and it helps me become a better human. I just want to give everything I can to an organization that’s given me a lot. I wouldn’t be where I’m at financially, physically, family-wise without this organization, so there’s a lot to be thankful for but it is challenging to be the starting quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders because there are so many eyes on you.”
If he is able to overcome a 6-8 start to lead the Riders to their fifth Grey Cup in franchise history, Fajardo won’t have anything to worry about when it comes time to sign his next contract.