Fajardo reflects on possible end to time as a Rider after season-ending loss

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo says he still feels he can be a starter in the CFL. (Amber Bracken/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo says he still feels he can be a starter in the CFL. (Amber Bracken/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Cody Fajardo is concerned that his playing days with the Saskatchewan Roughriders could now be over.

"I gave everything I had," said Fajardo as he cleaned out his locker Sunday.

Fajardo watched from the sidelines as the backup quarterback to Mason Fine on Saturday night as the Riders lost their last regular season game 36-10.

The Riders ended the season with a whimper, losing their last seven games and finishing out of the playoffs with a 6-12 record.

"I felt like the way the season played out was a little sickening for me, a little frustrating after giving everything I had for three years," Fajardo said of being relegated to the backup role the final two games.

"I just felt like the organization just kind of moved on from me and and for me that was a little emotional."

Fajardo said while he was disappointed with the season, he is excited to test out free agency.

"I know I can win football games in this league, I've done it. And I know I can play at a high level and I'm just excited for the opportunities ahead."

Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press
Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press

He said there is extra motivation to prove he is a No. 1 CFL quarterback.

"I've been an underdog my entire career, starting in high school to now. And so I'll always be motivated," Fajardo said.

"But yeah, you, anytime you end a year where you're not the starter and you start as the starter, there is a little bit of added motivation just to try to prove to the outside that you can still play this game."

'Look at all options': Coach

Head coach Craig Dickenson disagreed that the organization has given up on Fajardo.

"He's won a lot of football games, he's done a lot of really good things here," Dickenson said.

"He's a good football player, he's tough. So I don't want to say it's the end of the road for him, but certainly we're going to evaluate the position and look at all options.

"There's only so many starting quarterbacks in the league so you don't want to, you know, cut off your nose to spite your face so to speak."

"Ultimately we got to try to sign the best quarterbacks and if he's one of them, we'll go there at that point."

The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

Dickenson pointed to three specific games that torpedoed the season beginning with the July 8 game against Ottawa that saw Rider D-lineman Garret Marino hit Redblacks' quarterback Jeremiah Masoli with an egregious low hit that resulted in a four-game suspension.

"After that game we lost three of our four defensive lineman," Dickenson said.

"That was kind of the start of some adversity."

Dickenson said a game against Toronto that was postponed because so many Riders had COVID-19 also hurt as well as the Labour Day loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"We really felt like we should have beat Winnipeg at home. And I think that hurt our confidence losing that game."

Fajardo said being unable to field a team against Toronto because of COVID-19 felt like the turning point of the season.

"If we have a chance where we get to play a full roster and and we win that game, it might have been a little bit different," he said.

Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press
Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press

"We didn't even have enough players to have multiple packages. We had one formation, one package that we can go to and we were pretty much handicapped on offence and did everything we could to be in that game.

"But I really think that was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back or started the downturn of what happened."

Fajardo said he's received lots of positive feedback from fans.

"I've received probably over 1,000 emails, text direct messages of fans that were reaching out to me and wanting me back," he said.

"And like I said, that's not my decision. If it's up on the table and if it's a good fit, I think I would love to finish my career. "

Fajardo said many teammates went through tough times this season, including losing family members, "but the fans stuck with us through the end and it was nice to hear them cheering in that last home game."

"It was fan appreciation day. I went out and there had to be over 500 to 1,000 people out there just excited to take pictures with us to sign autographs. That's the stuff I'll remember.

"And if I don't get back to the being in the green and white, it's the little kids coming up to you saying that you're their favourite player. It's the parents reaching out, saying you're a great role model for their kids."

Now the Rider fans and players alike will have to watch the Grey Cup in Regina on Nov. 20 from the stands.