The very long chapter in the free agency of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has finally come to an end.
Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract with a chance to make an additional $3 million based on team performance. The added incentives, in the deal, could possibly push the deal to $15 million for Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a 10-6 record in 2015, bringing the team within one win of reaching the playoffs, while throwing a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes.
Maybe it took the Jets to up their offer, with a take it or leave it mandate, for Fitzpatrick to budge.
Perhaps it might have been the news of quarterback Nick Foles being released by the Los Angeles Rams, and potentially getting a call by the Jets, which prompted Fitzpatrick to accept the offer.
What many expected to be a quick decision, by both sides, to reach a deal turned instead into months of posturing before finally reaching an agreement beneficial for both sides.
The 33-year old veteran quarterback, out of Harvard, basically chose to bet on himself in 2016. If he reaches those added incentives, it would mean he has, at the least, matched his performance from a season ago. He could take those numbers into free agency for 2017 with the goal of securing a better deal for himself.
The possibility of Fitzpatrick making $15 million, off this deal, gives him what he apparently wanted in the first place. According to reports, the Jets had a three-year, $24 million offer on the table. Fitzpatrick, clearly observant of the big-money deals some of his peers were getting around the league, balked at the deal’s structure. With this contract, Fitzpatrick gets his money, at least for the upcoming season. What happens after that will be up to him and how he performs on the field.
The deal comes just in time for the start of training camp and puts an end to a stalemate which threatened to become a dark cloud of distraction over the Jets’ preparation for the upcoming season.
It’s good news for Jets’ players, well, maybe not so much for Geno Smith. The fourth-year quarterback, out of West Virginia, was hours away from opening training camp as the starter. The return of Fitzpatrick will send Smith back to the bench and could signal the beginning of the end for his time in New York.
The Jets have to be pleased with putting this stalemate behind them, and they were also able to do it without committing long-term money.
Fitzpatrick’s signing gives New York another year before having to decide if Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty could be their quarterback of the future.
What we do know is the debate over should the Jets move on from Fitzpatrick can now be put to rest. The reality of the situation is that if New York wanted to part ways with Fitzpatrick, they could have done so long before it came down to a last-minute guessing game of which side will blink first.
Signing Fitzpatrick signals loudly that the Jets are tabbing him as their quarterback for a team built to be all-in for this season.
Far as this team is concerned, the future is now.