The Montreal Alouettes have a new franchise quarterback as Cody Fajardo was signed to a two-year contract by the team on Tuesday. General manager Danny Maciocia is pleased with the addition.
“We’re extremely excited about having Cody here. Cody’s a good quarterback. What he went through last year should not define the quarterback that he is, I made that crystal clear with him on the phone,” Maciocia told the media in Montreal.
“He’s only 30, he’s had some productive years. … He can get it done with his arm, he can get it done with his feet and he’s pretty dynamic, great guy, he’s got a rapport with [head] coach [Jason] Maas. We’re excited about having him here.”
Maciocia indicated that Fajardo has been on the team’s radar for the last two weeks. The team expressed optimism about re-signing Trevor Harris as recently as last month, though the club’s unstable ownership situation appears to have thwarted their hopes of getting him back under contract.
Fajardo was benched late last season in Regina while his team was still mathematically eligible to qualify for the postseason. He wasn’t retained by Saskatchewan in free agency, who instead signed Harris to a two-year deal.
The dual-threat passer isn’t the only former member of the Riders whose career the Alouettes are hoping to rejuvenate. Maas, who served as Saskatchewan’s offensive coordinator last year, was fired following the season.
It appears as though redemption will be a popular theme for the Alouettes in 2023. Not only is the team under the interim ownership of the CFL for the second time in four years, but they have added a number of free agents whose old teams no longer wanted them.
“You take a look at Cody Fajardo, he’s going to come in here with a chip on his shoulder. He’s going to have a lot that he wants to prove to people, so does his head coach. So does [Jumal] Rolle that was released from Hamilton, so does [Greg] Ellingson that was told [Winnipeg’s] not going to re-sign him,” said Maciocia.
“These guys are going to come in here with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, this organization has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder right now, so we’re going line up and we’re going to buckle up and we’re going to get after people.”
Harris reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Riders during the CFL’s negotiating window last week and officially signed with the team on Tuesday.
Maciocia helped breathe life into Harris’ career when he acquired the veteran passer in a trade with Edmonton in 2021. Harris won the starting job in Montreal early this past season and threw for 4,157 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, his best output since 2018. Understandably, it wasn’t easy for Maciocia to watch his franchise quarterback sign with another club.
“It’s extremely frustrating just because you need to feel like you had a chance, that’s where the frustration is. Now, would we have matched (the contract offer) or done better? I don’t know about all of that, it wasn’t even a topic of conversation because we just didn’t have the resources to do so. But to sit there and watch it happen before your very own eyes, it’s totally frustrating.”
Montreal lost several free agents on Tuesday, including Harris, quarterback Dominique Davis, receivers Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke, offensive lineman Chris Schleuger, defensive linemen Thomas Costigan and Michael Wakefield, and defensive back Adarius Pickett.
However, the club made a number of additions as well, including Fajardo, quarterback Caleb Evans, fullback James Tuck, receiver Greg Ellingson, offensive lineman Justin Lawrence, defensive back Jumal Rolle, and long-snapper Louis-Philippe Bourassa.
“I think we bounced back. We came back strong, we got some good work done,” said Maciocia. “There was a 12-hour window yesterday that was just non-stop and I think we bounced back in a positive sense.”
The Alouettes were without an owner for the entire 2019 season before they were purchased by Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern but there appears to be optimism that the club won’t face the same fate in 2023. Team president Mario Cecchini is back on an interim basis and Maciocia is feeling confident about the future.
“If we get the right type of support, which I am anticipating that we will get, this is a team that will not disappoint. They’ll leave it out there every single week, every single game, every single play,” said Maciocia.
“I’m excited about the guys that are under contract. We still have a few more that we’re trying to identify that we’re going to try to talk into signing a contract here with the Alouettes. We’ve got the draft coming up. This is a team that I’m excited about.”