Quarterback Cody Fajardo has signed a two-year contract extension with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Fajardo, who signed a one-year contract with the CFL team in February, now has a new deal that carries through the 2021 season.
TSN’s Farhan Lalji is reporting that the deal is worth approximately $450,000 per season.
“It feels great,” a smiling Fajardo said during a Monday afternoon media conference at Mosaic Stadium.
“The last couple of years have been tough, because I’ve been living on a one-year contract. Going into the off-season, you never know where you’re going to end up. It has been hard on my family. Going into the off-season, it has been, ‘Well, this could be my last year playing football, or a team could take a chance on me.’
“I’m fortunate enough that the Roughriders took a chance on me. I knew that if I got an opportunity, I didn’t want to regret it going into it. Now, being locked in for two years, it feels good to know that there’s still more football in my life.
“A lot of things can change. A lot of things can happen from here to the next two years, but just knowing that they have trust in me and who I am as a player means a lot for me and my family.”
With the 27-year-old Fajardo at the controls, the Roughriders (11-5) are challenging for first place in the West Division.
Fajardo — previously a third-stringer with the Toronto Argonauts and B.C. Lions — took over as the Roughriders’ quarterback after Zach Collaros, who began the season as the No. 1 pivot, suffered a concussion three plays into the regular-season opener against the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“We’ve been fighting hard for an opportunity,” Fajardo said. “I didn’t think it would be the third play of the first game, to be quite honest with you, but that was a big reason I wanted to sign here (in February). I knew that there would be an opportunity to be a (Number) 2 (quarterback).
“I don’t know how many people have gone from being a third-stringer to a franchise guy in little over a year, so I’m very blessed for that.”
In his fourth full CFL season, Fajardo has completed 313 of 438 passes for 3,873 yards and 16 touchdowns. His completion percentage (71.5) puts him in line to set a franchise single-season record.
Fajardo has also rushed for 610 yards — the seventh-best total in the league — and 10 touchdowns.
“We’re super-happy for Cody and his family,” Roughriders general manager and vice-president of football operations Jeremy O’Day said. “We’re super-happy for our team as well. I think it’s a big day for our organization to get Cody to commit to our team for a few more years. We’re excited about that.
“We started this process probably a couple of months ago, when we started discussions with Cody and his representation. Very early in the process, we had a kind of a touch-base discussion with Cody and his representation and, as time went on, we increased those talks with them and really came to the determination that both parties wanted to try to get a deal done, which was exciting for us.
“We obviously wanted Cody, and Cody wanted to be here. They were great through the whole process. They were respectful of the process. They really wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be a distraction for the team. Cody’s a guy who really puts the team first and has a lot of respect in the locker room and has a lot of positive attributes that made the process go pretty smoothly.”
Those attributes will now be evident year-round.
“The biggest thing that I’m excited about is getting up here in the off-season,” said Fajardo, whose wife Laura is working on her master’s degree in Washington, D.C.
“Even though I’ll be back in D.C., just knowing that I’m committed here for the next two years, I want to be able to come up here in the off-season and connect with the community, and not just go down south for six months and show up for training camp. I want to come up here, be in the community, and just be a part of this.
“This city is everything I look forward to in a city — a blue-collar town with people who just work hard every day and they support their Roughriders and they’re pretty crazy about the Roughriders, as I am.”
Despite the significance of the contract extension, Fajardo is focusing on the short term — such as Saturday’s road game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
“We’ve got unfinished business this year,” Fajardo said. “That’s the biggest thing. When I signed that contract, it was tough, because I didn’t want to look forward to that. I wanted to stay in the now and just realize that we’ve got some unfinished business.
“We have a really good football team, and the problem with the CFL is guys sign one- and two-year deals, so there’s a lot of fluidity between teams. I’ve been on teams where they completely change.
“I can remember our 2017 Grey Cup team (in Toronto). We lost almost half our team, so it’s really tough to have our same locker room over and over with these one- and two-year deals. With that being said, I want to be able to do everything that I can.
“I think the biggest thing that will change now, having a contract extension, is that I’m going to turn into a recruiter and try to recruit as many guys as I can, because I love that locker room. I love every guy in there, and all those guys believe that we can win a Grey Cup and we’ve got something special.