The New York Jets have finally consummated a deal with starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. What’s the Geno Smith side of things?
So it’s been a couple days since the shocking news of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return to the New York Jets. We’ve heard several different kinds of angles on this contract signing, now it’s time to hear it from a Geno Smith connoisseur.
For all the Smith fans/believers out there, this article is for you. Many fans were disappointed that the Jets “caved” in the negotiations with Fitzpatrick. The Jets were essentially negotiating against themselves the entire time and that was very much the case at the end of July. So why did the Jets sign off on a fully guaranteed $12M dollar contract?
The secret is in the sauce as they say, the rest of the contract includes about $3M in incentives for a deep playoff run, coincidence? I think not. So why were fans supporting Smith and wanted him to start Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals? Everyone knows about Smith’s history with turnovers and bad decisions, but it wasn’t all his fault.
At varying times in his career, his No. 1 receiver was Jeremy Kerley, Braylon Edwards and Eric Decker (who was the best of the bunch, clearly). While Fitzpatrick did indeed break several franchise records last season, he did it with an All-Star cast of crew and characters.
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With Brandon Marshall a top-seven receiver in the NFL and Decker arguably the best No. 2 receiver in the game, the other reason Jets fans were willing to kick the tires one more time, is because of potential.
Potential is a funny word, its meaning implies hope, promise and intrigue.
Smith has plenty of that: obviously dreaming about better weapons, the Chan Gailey offense and of course the fact that he’s only 25-years-old.
So essentially Smith’s “potential” ceiling is that he could have a phenomenal year with a perfect storm of the aforementioned items: weapons, offensive scheme and truly blossom as a starting quarterback in this offense.
The problem with that dream scenario is why the Jets had to sign Fitzpatrick. While Smith’s potential ceiling is higher, his floor is much lower. If the Jets said screw Fitzpatrick, we’re rolling with Smith, and he shows the same issues he has had throughout his career, the Jets just wasted a prime year of some key older players on the roster.
With this roster, the Jets can’t afford to do that and they know that better than anyone. While Fitzpatrick sitting at 33-years-old (he’ll turn 34 during this upcoming season), the word potential expired nearly a decade ago.
The caveat being, in theory, that the Jets know what they have in Fitzpatrick and as a veteran quarterback who has been around the block, will possess a higher floor. That very ideology is why the Jets made the best decision for this team in the present.
While the possibility still remains that Smith, entering a contract year, could ride the bench the whole season and go somewhere else next year and explode. That’s what Smith supporters fear, but in all honesty the writing has been written on the wall for quite some time. Here’s what Smith said in an article written by Rich Cimini of ESPN.com:
“It’s no disrespect to anyone, but I’m auditioning for this team and 31 other teams in the NFL,” Smith said Thursday, via ESPN.com. “The way you handle all of this says a lot about your character. I’ve got little kids back home (in South Florida) seeing how I react. Everyone will watch to see how I react. I’m not going to allow this situation — because it’s not the worst situation I’ve been in — to deter me from my ultimate goal.”
The Jets have had multiple opportunities to commit to Smith and the only time it was really genuine, he got punched in the mouth. Plus the Jets just happened to draft another quarterback by way of the second round in Christian Hackenberg.
You don’t draft a quarterback in the second round on a win-now team, unless you think he has the “potential” to be a franchise quarterback. Again with Fitzpatrick signing a one-year deal, the picture is getting set up for this to possibly be Hackenberg’s team in 2017.
Hopefully this can fuel Smith because as we saw last season, Fitzpatrick puts himself into precarious positions with his recklessness. While Smith is the backup quarterback, he’s only one play away from being inserted into the starting lineup and he needs to prepare himself that way each and every week once the regular season arrives.