The New York Jets and free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continue to be miles apart from a mutual agreement. Owner Woody Johnson recently spoke about his thoughts on the hot topic of the offseason.
Johnson commented for the first time on the contract dispute between Fitzpatrick and the Jets. He delivered a pretty straight forward message to Fitzpatrick in which Johnson said that he wants him to come back to the team in which he set the single-season franchise record of touchdowns at 31.
Johnson remains optimistic that a deal could very well get done between the two sides. The Jets have given Fitzpatrick the praise and recognition he deserves during the offseason following his career year with Gang Green. Head coach Todd Bowles has even gone on record after the season was over to state that Fitzpatrick would be their starting quarterback if a deal was reached during free agency.
The Jets are currently offering Fitzpatrick a contract in which he would earn about $7 million per year which is a fair offer considering his time in Buffalo where he was offered a large contract and then never lived up to the money he was given. However, Fitzpatrick is believed to be asking possibly double what the Jets have offered him per year.
When Johnson was asked about a possible deal getting done between each side, his response as per the 120 Sports video above was:
“I kind of hope so because he had such a good year last year,” he said of Fitzpatrick, who set the franchise record for the Jets last season with 31 touchdowns. “I mean, it seems like an ideal [situation]. “I like him a lot as a person,” Johnson continued. “He’s very engaging. He’s great with kid’s, great with our fans, great with our players. They really respect him. He’s two guys. He’s the Harvard guy and then he’s the normal guy. They all make fun of him for being a Harvard guy, but he’s a normal guy, too.”
The Jets’ owner also went on to say that he is not at all surprised that the negotiations have gone on for this long saying that it’s simply part of the free agency process. He also said that there’s no sense of urgency, which proposes the possibility that Fitzpatrick could afford to miss the offseason program because of his familiarity with Chan Gailey’s offense.
Realistically, the Jets don’t want the stalemate with Fitzpatrick to last that long, their options at his replacement are wearing extremely thin. Colin Kaepernick is expected to remain with the San Francisco 49ers. Robert Griffin III has drawn some serious interest from the quarterback needy Cleveland Browns which will leave the Jets with two only two options in front of them.
Either choose a quarterback early in the 2016 NFL Draft, or select one as the starter from your current roster. Jets’ general manager Mike Maccagnan has said that Geno Smith is a “definite possibility” as a replacement.
Johnson also noted that not every team needs an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl trophy.
Johnson mentioned the Denver Broncos, whose defense allowed them to overcome an aging Peyton Manning, won thanks to shutting down one of the top offenses of the NFL in the Carolina Panthers.
It’s pretty clear Johnson is doing everything he can to cover up the ongoing contract negotiations between the Jets and Fitzpatrick by mentioning the Broncos’ defense, but are Johnson’s comments regarding his wishes for Fitzpatrick to return to the team more hurtful towards their negotiations rather than beneficial?
By Johnson asking Fitzpatrick to come back to the Jets, that small quote exposes weakness and slight desperation on the front office side of negotiations as time goes by and the Jets are one of the few teams without their definitive starting quarterback for the 2016 season. Fitzpatrick had a decent season in Buffalo in which he received a six-year contract extension worth $59 million with $24 million guaranteed back in 2011.
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) drops back to pass against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to his contract extension back in 2011, he threw for over 3,000 passing yards and recorded 23 touchdowns the year before. He also had an overall record of 13-15 with the Bills. We all remember what happened to the former seventh-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft after that. The journeyman continued his voyage to the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and now to the present day with the Jets where he finds himself in another similar situation.
Coming off a career year in which he had over 3,500 passing yards and 31 touchdowns, Fitzpatrick is once again seeking a larger than life contract of 2-3 years with about $14-17 million per year. The Jets are currently playing hardball staying firm on their $7 million per year offer which is fair considering his contract in 2011.
The Jets know no other team will offer the veteran quarterback anywhere near what his agent is asking. The Denver Broncos decided to trade for Mark Sanchez rather than paying Fitzpatrick $17 million per year, Cleveland could work out a deal with Griffin, and the 49ers are expected to retain Kaepernick for the 2016 season, which leaves the Jets as his primary landing spot.
Johnson should monitor his comments more carefully, it may not seem like a big deal but any leverage the Jets’ front office had on their negotiations could have slowly diminished. Fitzpatrick’s agent could use Johnson’s comment as bait and feed off the teams possible desperation to help squeeze out a few extra million per year for his client.
Time is ticking, the longer the Jets wait on Fitzpatrick means more money wasted that could have been used to help fill other important gaps on the team. Will the Jets work out a deal with the veteran QB? It still seems highly likely that Fitpatrick will indeed bite the bullet and re-sign with the team but for how much now? Could Johnson’s comments cost the team leverage in landing him for a reasonable $7 million per year?
If Fitzpatrick and the Jets can’t reach an agreement by late April, expect the Jets to address the vacancy spot sometime during this year’s draft.