Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo questions future after benching: ‘I hope there’s somebody out there that might still want me’

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Cody Fajardo appears to have started his last game as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders as he wondered aloud regarding his future after being benched by the team in favour of Mason Fine.

“I hope there’s somebody out there that might still want me. I don’t think it’s the end of the Cody Fajardo football book, I think it might just be the end of the chapter. It’s tough to say, you never know but it’s difficult to go out like this — your last home game and not be able to start and you have no idea what’s going to happen in the off-season,” Fajardo told the media in Regina on Wednesday.

“I love everybody in this building and this organization gave me an opportunity to play, the first organization that really gave me a lot of confidence and pride and took pride in me and so it’s bittersweet. It’s going to be a tough, difficult off-season and I gotta think and take time with my wife. I got a baby now, so I’ve gotta take a lot of things into account but I don’t think my playing days are over and I hope I can stay in the CFL for more years to come.”

The veteran quarterback did not participate in practice on Tuesday with head coach Craig Dickenson telling the media that he was taking a “vet day” and remained the team’s starter. Fajardo denied that on Wednesday, claiming he was told five days ago that he would be relegated to backup duty.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that everyone thought that I was taking a vet day after a bye week. I’ve played through a lot worse and some people were hounding me for taking a day off but I’m going to go out there and I’m going to give it everything I have like I have the last four years and give everything I’ve got to this organization,” said Fajardo.

The Riders are 2-9 over their last eleven games, ten of which have featured Fajardo as the starting quarterback. He has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions over those games, missing one contest in July after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 30-year-old indicated that Dickenson told him the decision was not based on Fajardo’s performance but instead as a means of generating a spark for the offence. Saskatchewan has managed to score only 22.3 points per game this season, which ranks seventh in the league.

“It’s tough being the starting quarterback for a team that didn’t live up to our expectations. I feel like you kind of take that negativity and if you want to make a splash or a big change to get a spark, you bench the quarterback. I’m a casualty of it and it’s going to be tough standing on the sidelines for the first time in a long time,” said Fajardo.

“The only thing is when you’re the captain of a ship and it’s going down, you want to go down with it and that’s the only thing that’s unfortunate is I’m not going to be able to be out there with my guys to finish out the year. It’s tough but I’m going to be out there to support Mason. He’s got a great opportunity to seize the moment.”

Saskatchewan is hosting the Grey Cup this year, further raising the expectations of fans in Riderville. The province last hosted the CFL’s championship game in 2013 when they won it on home soil, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats by a score of 45-23.

Though the club’s playoff hopes are fading fast, Fajardo remains committed to doing everything he can to help the team win.

“Obviously, it’s difficult for me but I’m here to support the team. There’s two weeks left and we’re going to try to do everything we can to win football games and whatever they’re going to ask me to do and if I even get some playing time in the game, I’ll be ready, I’ll be prepared. I’m preparing like I’m the starter,” said Fajardo.

“I know this role, I’ve been in this role before and I’ll be the best damn backup that this team needs for these last two weeks and see what happens after that.”

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