(Photo via sportsworldreport.com)
With the NFL offseason period officially underway, NFL fans have been checking their phones every 10 minutes to see if their favorite teams are locking up these coveted free agents. Every day, a big name is signed, leaving some with hope for the future, while others are left wondering, “What in the world just happened?!?” For a New York Jets fan, this has become the common narrative. And as it has been with the Ryan Fitzpatrick situation, confusion has reached a new high.
Before the end of Jets regular season, head coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan repeatedly stated their desire to bring back Fitzpatrick for the 2016 season, and perhaps even longer, until they find their true long term answer at quarterback. It seemed like a perfect marriage. And Fitzpatrick also seemed on board with the idea…that is until money entered the equation. As it turns out, the Jets do not have much wiggle room with their cap space and are looking more for cost-efficient acquisitions than in year’s past. Because of this, they lost out on their star NT Damon Harrison and lead-back Chris Ivory in free agency. But if there is one guy that they simply cannot lose, it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Sounds crazy right? So much talk for a 34-year old quarterback who has been an NFL journeyman with limited success. But Fitz truly brought the magic for the Jets last season, accounting for 31 pass TDs and nearly 4,000 passing yards, both career highs. He led the Jets to a 10-6 season, and provided the Jets with their first stable, consistent QB in years. Unfortunately, all of this success is coming at a price, a hefty price for that matter.
Fitz wants to be paid what the market says starting quarterbacks should be paid, with a figure hovering around $15-18 million per year. The Jets offered a reasonable offer, in my view, of $21 million over 3 years. Clearly their sides are far apart, but who should budge? The way I see it, compromising the future by pouring $18 million into a 34-year old doesn’t seem like the smartest move. I loved Fitz in NY last year; he was the leader of the offense, was liked in the locker room by his peers, and seemed to be the glue that kept the team together all season long. That is why it pains me to see such a disconnect in contract talks between both sides.
I do understand Fitzpatrick’s position; he feels like he should be paid based on the market valuation of current starting QBs. He had a career year, and he wants to be paid like it. But, I urge Fitz to realize that his best chance of winning and repeating his success is with Chan Gailey at OC, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and the New York Jets. Then again, the Jets can move on, but Fitz’ football life is at stake here; there is no need for him to jeopardize his chance at a title (or at least a job) for a contract offer that no team is willing to give him. This stalemate must come to an end, for the sake and sanity of New York fans everywhere.