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Roughriders O’Day preparing for unique free agency period as Grey Cup hosts

Saskatchewan Roughriders then-interim general manager Jeremy O'Day speaks during a press conference at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Sask., on Sept. 1, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

“There comes a point where we need to know. Either you’re in or you’re out.”

That’s how Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day described the waiting game that comes along with player contract negotiations ahead of CFL free agency which opens Tuesday, Feb. 8.

The Roughriders have a long list of free agents that includes players like William Powell, Jon Ryan and Micah Johnson.

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One player who is definitely ‘in’ the fold for the 2022 season is quarterback Cody Fajardo. Ahead of his third season in Saskatchewan, Fajardo recently restructured his contract to give himself more money upfront while his overall salary cap number will go down to help the team when free agency begins next week.

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“After talking to Cody he was happy that we got it done. Certainly, every bit helps. I know the cap is what it is but any time you have a player that helps you with the cap it’s obviously a good thing and shows that he is a team player,” said O’Day.

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However after five years in Saskatchewan and 21 regular-season interceptions, a fan favourite in defensive back Ed Gainey thanked Roughrider fans on Twitter.

“Thanks for everything rider nation.” Gainey tweeted just after midnight on Wednesday, indicating that the nine-year CFL veteran will not be returning to the team in 2022 .

O’Day confirmed it.

“We did talk to representation for Ed and say that we aren’t gonna offer him back. We’ve done that with a few of the current players that are on the team. The reality is every year the team is gonna be different. It’s not always gonna be the same and there’s gonna be some changes and there’s gonna be some adjustments to the team.”

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Read more: Saskatchewan Roughriders retain Evans, Moore for 2022

O’Day explained that one of the downsides of success and winning is that everyone wants – and many deserve – a raise, and there’s only so much money to go around in the current league salary-cap structure.

“Something to consider through this is that our players went a whole year without income from playing football and so there’s some guys that want to check and see what their value is and if it’s worthwhile to switch teams to support their family – that’s what some of them do,” said the Roughriders GM.

As for whether or not the Roughriders will go all-in in a year where they are hosting the Grey Cup, O’Day, a former player himself, was quite clear.

“We spend to the cap every year so I don’t know how much more all-in you can go. If you put all your money in every year I think you’re going all-in every year.”

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