Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo plans to test free agency but will always feel ‘tied’ to Saskatchewan

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Cody Fajardo took the field at Mosaic Stadium as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for what was likely the last time this past weekend, taking a handful of snaps in a backup role behind Mason Fine. The veteran quarterback was pleased to receive a warm reception from the crowd and appreciates the recent support he’s received from Rider Nation.

“I heard the crowd cheering every time I went in and it’s just nice. I’ve gotten a lot of great messages over this last week from a lot of fans that really made this difficult situation a little bit better. A lot of people who care about me and my wife and our son, Luca. This has always been a second home for us and I’ll always be tied here to Regina and Saskatchewan, especially with our son being born here,” Fajardo told the media in Regina.

The 30-year-old wondered aloud regarding his future after losing the starting job last week, expressing his hope that another team will want him under centre in 2023. Though he’s not entirely ruling out a return to Saskatchewan, Fajardo reiterated his intention to test free agency on Tuesday.

“I think I owe it to myself to see what’s out there and take it to free agency and we’ll see what’s going to happen from there. I’m not going to rule out any team. I want to play football a little bit longer and so I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen but I’ll focus on this last week and being as prepared as I can,” said Fajardo.

Head coach Craig Dickenson was complimentary of how Fajardo has handled his demotion, saying the former CFL all-star has continued to show up early and work hard. Fine also expressed his appreciation for the veteran quarterback’s leadership, saying Fajardo has been a “great teammate” who has helped him out “tremendously” since becoming the starter.

Fine will start Saskatchewan’s final regular season game on Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders, while Fajardo will continue to serve as the backup. The second-year passer threw for 196 yards and a touchdown in a 32-21 loss to the Calgary Stampeders last week, which officially eliminated the team from postseason contention.

Fajardo’s prevailing memory from his tenure with the Riders will be the team’s appearances in the West Final in 2019 and 2021. Though the club lost both games to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the contests marked Saskatchewan’s first back-to-back appearances in the West Final in a decade.

The six-foot-two, 223-pound passer regrets how this past year turned out following a promising 4-1 start, though he credits having his young family in Regina with him as helping him through this challenging time.

“Having my wife, Laura, here and Luca here has really put a lot of things in perspective and I’m able to go home smiling and be a dad and be a husband. Even though things haven’t turned out the way I wanted them to, a lot of hard work and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this year and unfortunately it just wasn’t our year and things didn’t go our way. I wish I would have played much better but it was just a tough year for me altogether,” said Fajardo.

“It’s bittersweet and it’s tough. I laid everything I had for this organization but just to come to an end like this is kinda anticlimactic to tell you the truth.”