Roughriders re-sign all-star quarterback Fajardo through 2022 season
The 28-year-old Fajardo had a breakout season in 2019
Quarterback Cody Fajardo says he can't wait to be back on the field with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"I'm chomping at the bit to play some football," said Fajardo, who signed a contract extension with the Riders through the 2022 season. "I went to my backyard after everything was final and I kind of threw the football at a few trees and a few trash cans back there because I just want to throw the football."
The 6-foot-2, 215 pound Fajardo had a breakout year in 2019 with the Riders.
The 28-year-old led the Riders to a 13-5 finish in 2019, only the third time the team finished in first place since 1975, and led the league with 4,302 passing yards.
For his efforts, Fajardo was named a CFL all-star and the West Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player.
Fajardo said Regina is a special place to play.
"I want to be here as long as the team wants me to be here, because there's nothing like going out to practice, seeing fans in the stands, going to dinner, talking to kids who said that they were pretending to be me in their backyard," Fajardo said.
"Those are the little things that I'm going to remember for the rest of my life, not the touchdowns at the end of the game or the two-minute drives. It's going to be those little things that truly make you feel like you have a purpose in playing football."
Fajardo was down to the last year on his contract. Rider general manager Jeremy O'Day said the team wanted to have security at quarterback for the next couple of years.
"Thankfully, he was wanting to stay with with our organization and obviously makes you feel pretty good when your quarterback wants to come back," O'Day said.
Fajardo said that, like a lot of other CFL quarterbacks, he is taking a pay cut for the 2021 season.
"We got our signing bonus in 2019, so we were able to live comfortably and there was a lot guys hurting more than us," Fajardo said.
"I took a pretty decent pay cut. [O'Day] was very willing to help me out, though, here in 2022 moving forward. So to be able to give a little bit now to make a little bit more on the back end was something that I was willing to do and I thought it would work for both parties."
He said it was also a way to show leadership off the field.
"If I'm the guy who goes out and says, 'I want the money, I want the money,' and then try and go in the locker room and be a leader a different way, guys would be like, it's conflicting."
The pay cut could also help keep some of the Riders top players from moving on, he said.
"I think that O'Day should be able to retain, as you saw, a lot of our top guys from last year as well as bringing some young guys who can really make some plays on the field.," Fajardo said.
Prior to joining the Riders, Fajardo spent one season with the B.C. Lions and two with the Toronto Argonauts, where he won a Grey Cup in 2017.
The California native attended the University of Nevada, where he became just the second player in Division I history to reach 9,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing, joining Nevada alumni Colin Kaepernick.
Fajardo said there is unfinished business for him here after the 2020 season was cancelled and with it a chance at playing in the Grey Cup in Regina.
"I thought our 2020 team on paper was one of the most talented teams I think the league would have seen," he said.
"So I felt like we were robbed with the COVID stuff in 2020. I wanted to be able to hopefully play in a home Grey Cup game in 2022. But I've got to take care of 2021 first."
He said he is happy to see so many players back, including running back William Powell, defensive back Nick Marshall, offensive lineman Dan Clark receiver Shaq Evans.
"I told my wife that was one of my favourite Christmas gifts of the year, was having those guys back around us," he said.
"I'm willing to help the team in any way I can because the ultimate goal is winning a Grey Cup. It's not being the highest paid player. It's not making a bunch of money. It's about putting a ring on everyone's finger and celebrating those times with those guys in the locker room. "