After months of contract negotiations highlighted by periods of take-it-or-leave-it silence, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets have finally found common ground, with the 33-year-old journeyman quarterback agreeing to a one-year, $12 million deal. Fitzpatrick made $3.25 million last season, during which he threw for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Based on his career numbers, Fitzpatrick probably isn’t worth $12 million, but, well, that’s the going rate for quarterbacks. It was a long, tiring game of tug-of-war, and in the end, Fitzpatrick more or less won.
“That’s exactly right, and God knows we had enough time to talk about it the last few months, as this was all dragging much longer than we expected,” WFAN Jets reporter Chris Lopresti said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “On paper or based on his performance, his career track record, is he a $12 million player? Probably not. But you’re right. In this day and age when you are a starting quarterback and you start 15 of the 16 games games – because he got hurt in that Raider game – and you throw 31 touchdowns and your team wins 10 games, you’re going to get paid. I think that ultimately this is what made the most sense for both sides. They wanted each other (but) couldn’t come to an agreement on a long-term contract.”
The Jets had offered Fitzpatrick a three-year deal for $24 million, which included $16 million in guarantees, but Fitzpatrick wouldn’t bite.
“The Jets pretty much made it public knowledge about the three-year offer they had on the table,” Lopresti said. “Fitzpatrick wanted more guaranteed money. When that happened a couple months back and the sides were said to be far apart, I said at the time, ‘Why not just do a one-year contract and get this out of the way? Both sides want each other, both sides need each other. You don’t have to worry about continuing to negotiate this through the media for months at a time. You can put it on the back-burner until next season. Get it done.’ And that’s ultimately what they did.”
The Jets apparently offered a one-year, $9 million contract before increasing it to $12 million and giving Fitzpatrick until 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday to accept it.
“The Jets had never said publicly that they had given Fitzpatrick a deadline to make a decision,” Lopresti said. “Well, we find out tonight it was a 7 p.m. deadline for the Jets. Today was report day for them, and Fitz pretty much milked the clock. He brought it down pretty much into that final hour. I think cooler heads finally prevailed, I think it’s a deal that makes sense for both sides, and we hopefully put this to bed now and move on and see if he can try and replicate those numbers that he put up last year. I think it’s going to be difficult against a much tougher schedule for the Jets next season.”
Once Fitzpatrick saw the money – or, in his eyes, the lack thereof – being offered on the three-year deal, he apparently requested a one-year, $12 million deal several months ago.
“That’s what he said a couple month ago,” Lopresti said. “He was willing to sign that contract, and that’s ultimately the exact deal that he got tonight. So the Jets, if you want to say that they caved, technically you could say that. Because at the time, the word was the Jets didn’t want to do a one-year deal. They wanted some long-term insurance, knowing that they could have Fitzpatrick under contract for 2017 if they still weren’t comfortable with going with someone else as their starter or they could transition him to a cost-effective backup. Fitzpatrick wasn’t about that.
“So there is the school of thought out there and some Jets fans that are kind of upset because they feel like the Jets were ultimately bidding against themselves,” Lopresti continued. “It didn’t seem like Fitzpatrick had any other offers out there, any other teams interested, and the Jets came up with their offer. But honestly, I don’t have a big problem with that. We’re talking about a couple million bucks in a one-year deal. If it doesn’t work out, both sides move on from each other at this time next year. The Jets obviously wanted him back. Fitzpatrick, I think realizes this is the best opportunity for him in Chan Gailey’s offense with some excellent offensive weapons. He put up good numbers last year, so he was going to get a little extra money, and now the Jets don’t have to worry about running Geno Smith back out there as their starter this season.”