Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
As the New York Jets prepare to have life without quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, even if he does come back, these quarterbacks are actually much better.
Let’s get one thing straight: Ryan Fitzpatrick is a more proven quarterback than any of those currently on the roster of the New York Jets. The question is, what has he proven? We all know what happened on the final day of the season. There really is no use in reviewing it. When a journeyman – yes, that’s what he is – quarterback asks for a significant raise at 33-years-old after one season in which the team he led almost made the playoffs, then everyone involved with the team needs to look back and review the situation.
For a quarterback to be paid the money of a starter, the team must have confidence that he can get the job done better than anyone out of anyone on their roster or in the open market. No Jets quarterback in recent memory had the weaponry surrounding him that Fitzpatrick had. A 1,000 yard rusher, two 1,000 yard receivers and a quality offensive line are a combination that quarterback Geno Smith may have thrived under.
When we say that Fitzpatrick is proven, that means that we know what he is, without a doubt. $12M is below average for a starting quarterback, but above average for someone whose only value is that we know what his value to the team is. Given that $12M price point, here are some quarterbacks whose value is higher than Fitzpatrick given their contract, relative ability, age and potential.
This list will not include big name starters, because a Pro Bowler at $18M is more valuable than Fitzpatrick. The same goes for those on their rookie contracts, or those due for a raise soon. That being said, here are the top five quarterbacks whose contracts are a better value than Fitzpatrick, given a similar level of career performance.
Next: 5. Remember him?
Nov 22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) warms up before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
5. Quarterback Mark Sanchez
Average Salary Per Year on Current Contract: $4.5M
This pick probably will not go over well with most Jets fans. However, Mark Sanchez’s career has been plagued by two things: his decision to come out of college early and the early success he experienced with the Jets that weighed heavily on the expectations everyone had for him and the team.
While Sanchez may not have been the reason the Jets went to successive AFC Championship games in January 2010 and 2011, he is not the reason they lost those games. In one of those seasons, the Jets faced quarterback Peyton Manning in his prime, and in another they gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 24-point cushion in their own house. Neither of those warranted pointing the finger at Sanchez. Did his play after that stink up the entire Tri-State Area? You bet. You could argue that Sanchez is a guy who could have benefited from watching from the sidelines in his first few seasons.
If someone told you the Jets could have a quarterback that ranks in the top 10 in playoff wins among active players, is not yet 30 and has a winning record as a starter, at a price of $4.5M annually, what would you say? Of course, there’s a lot to be said about a guy who turns the ball over at an alarming rate, but for $4.5M, all the Jets could guarantee is a chance to compete.
In 2014, Mark Sanchez started eight games for a Philadelphia Eagles team with more weapons on offense than any Jets team prior to last season, and he put up pretty decent numbers. A 64.1% completion rate, over 2,400 yards, 14 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 88.4 are nothing to sneeze at. Is it anything to write home about? Probably not. Is it more than worth it to see if he can make something of his ability at 29 for $4.5M annually? You bet.
Next: 4. Another former Eagle
4. Quarterback Nick Foles
Average Salary Per Year On Current Contract: $12.25M
Again, let’s get one thing straight: the Jets are reportedly offering Fitzpatrick $12M, and he is reportedly not too happy about it. Quarterback Nick Foles caught lightning in a bottle in 2013. At that point, he looked well on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. The question is, what happened?
When Foles broke his collarbone during the 2014 season, that opened the door for the guy discussed in the previous slide – Mark Sanchez. When Mark was also successful running the offense, the Eagles sought what they thought was an upgrade from two guys who put up similar numbers in 2014 (Foles had 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while Sanchez had 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions) and traded for former No. 1 overall pick quarterback Sam Bradford. Today, both Bradford and Foles are in the same spot, as they are both as good as gone as the starters of their teams.
At 27 years old, Foles has enough time to revive his career from this injury-riddled past. Big-armed, big-bodied quarterbacks often figure it out. Foles is even an NFL-record holder, as he is tied with several other players for throwing 7 touchdowns in one game.
Foles signed a contract at $12.25M, meaning that he believes this is fair value for his services, or he realized that is the best offer he was getting. Fitzpatrick is not satisfied with $12M, meaning he wants more. Until Fitzpatrick signs the dotted line at $12M, Foles has more value.
Next: 3. Another top five draft pick
May 18, 2016; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin (10) throws a pass during official training activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
3. Quarterback Robert Griffin III
Average Salary Per Year On Current Contract: $7.5M
Quarterback Robert Griffin III was supposed to challenge fellow 2012 draftee Andrew Luck for the title of best quarterback in the draft. Early on, some even thought of RG3 as the better of the two.
After leading the Washington Redskins to the playoffs in his rookie season, the bottom fell out on him after destroying his knee in the playoffs. Losing his ability to be a dual-threat quarterback greatly diminished his value, and he eventually lost his job to quarterback Kirk Cousins.
A lot of things happened circumstantially that make RG3’s current value unknown. Some question his maturity and abilities to be a good teammate, but there isn’t much substance to those opinions.
We also don’t know when or if he has recovered fully from his injuries, or if he ever will. Again, at his current price point, it is worth it to find out. He is playing a caretaker role on the Cleveland Browns, with many believing he will be unseated by a top pick of the organization. If he flourishes, some team will more than likely reward him with a larger contract. At just 26-years-old however, that’s a risk worth taking.
Next: 2. The $2M former Houston Texan
Dec 6, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer (7) throws a pass under pressure by Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) and defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) during the first quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
2. Quarterback Brian Hoyer
Average Salary Per Year On Current Contract: $2M
Quarterback Brian Hoyer had one of the worst playoff games a player could have in last season’s Wild Card round against the Kansas City Chiefs. Hoyer steered the Texans to a 30-0 drubbing at the hands of those Chiefs.
After throwing 4 interceptions and completing less than 50% of his pass attempts, Hoyer was essentially run out of town. His performance in that game is considered one of the worst performances by a quarterback in a playoff game ever.
After all of that, Hoyer is the second-string quarterback on a Chicago Bears team whose starter is also somewhat maligned. People also forget that in 11 games last year, Hoyer had a TD-INT ratio greater than 2 to 1. He has also won as many playoff games as Fitzpatrick, and is getting paid 1/6 of what Fitzpatrick is being offered.
While you can’t bank on Hoyer being your starter, the Jets should not bank on Fitzpatrick-lightning striking twice, if that’s what it truly is. $2M for Hoyer to compete and/or be a caretaker quarterback until one of the young guns is ready would’ve been much more cost-effective (in hindsight).
Next: 1. This quarterback needs another second chance
Nov 9, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn (10) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
1. Quarterback Matt Flynn
Average Salary Per Year On Current Contract: $0
After looking through a lot of articles to make sure that quarterback Matt Flynn did not commit a crime, hadn’t been seriously injured, or announced his retirement, it is confirmed that this is a situation that perplexes me. The Jets had Flynn through the preseason last year, and he wasn’t given much of a chance to prove himself.
Flynn tore up in the field in a few appearances in relief to quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay (they had a lot of offensive weapons), and was surprisingly unseated from the starting position he signed up for in Seattle prior to quarterback Russell Wilson winning the job. Flynn is 30-years-old, and nobody knows exactly what he is.
Flynn is equivalent to Fitzpatrick. A 7th round pick, Flynn was able to earn $19.2M across eight seasons in the NFL and has started a grand total of seven games. In those seven games, Flynn through for over 2,500 and threw for 17 touchdowns.
His last NFL contract was with the New Orleans Saints for a value of $870K, way less than what Fitzpatrick is turning down. If the Jets and Fitzpatrick do not agree, and the Jets need a fourth guy in camp, this is the guy to look at.
The Jets have a lot of people to pay in the near future. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, safety Calvin Pryor, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and many other young players they will look to retain. The hope of the organization is that they will be signing one of the young quarterbacks currently on the roster to a long-term contract.
They have made it clear that Fitzpatrick is a one to two-year option for the team. At a certain point, they can not jeopardize the future of the organization by committing millions to a guy that is not the answer to a question that has gone unanswered for nearly 50 years. The Jets can’t afford to not wait a few years more. Either wait or try and catch lightning in a bottle with another low-risk high-reward quarterback.