Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled a number on not only the New York Jets but on fans when he honestly believed he was worth franchise quarterback money for what he brought to the table.
In 2015, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick put up a monster year straight into the record books of the New York Jets. In the best season of his career, Fitzpatrick totaled 3,905 passing yards, 335 completions, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
This was the year that the Jets brought in a new and highly regarded leadership team with coaches that knew how to get the most out of their players. They had plenty of money to spend in free agency and also had a marvelous 2015 NFL Draft. Optimism filled the air and the Jets looked like a completely different team heading in the right direction.
The Jets ended the year 10-6 just a game shy of making the NFL Playoffs. There is no telling just what could have transpired with the Jets had they made the postseason but the football world will never know. Fitzpatrick was set to hit free agency and everyone thought it was a no-brainer that he would be brought back. No one expected the drama that ensued since he felt the original offer the Jets gave to him was low and he was worth much more money.
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As Fitzpatrick tested free agency, not a single team offered him any kind of contract to acquire his services. Fitzpatrick felt due to the kind of year he put up, he was worth franchise quarterback money when he’s been a journeyman that has played on six different teams throughout his career.
The Jets, at the time, wisely didn’t give in and were willing to move forward without him. They had Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and even Christian Hackenberg to work with. Most teams tend to have two, three at most when it comes to quarterbacks so they would have more than likely been fine at the position.
At the final hour after general manager Mike Maccagnan gave an ultimatum of $12M for a one-year deal, Fitzpatrick finally agreed. He missed all of the organized team activities and training camp which more than likely led to his early season struggles. Needless to say, not only did the Jets overpay for him but learned a valuable lesson in all this.
Football experts, analysts, and even fans knew that Fitzpatrick was a product of the system and not some extraordinary franchise quarterback. He came to the right place, perfect situation, and had a familiarity with the offense installed by offensive coordinator Chan Gailey last year. They worked together for years during their tenure with the Buffalo Bills as clearly, Fitzpatrick knew how to efficiently run it.
It also helped that last year, the Jets had such an easy schedule, it’s surprising they didn’t win more games than they did, especially in a “win and get in” game against the Bills in their season finale. Those clutch and crucial moments are what defines a team and Fitzpatrick fell way short of delivering when it mattered most. This should have been a glaring sign in perhaps they should have stuck with their young gunslingers rather than invest more money into a quarterback that many knew wouldn’t do much of anything this season.
That should have been a sign for the Jets but sadly, Fitzpatrick used his monster year as leverage to get more money and fooled everyone in thinking he’d have similar results. A tougher schedule against better teams exposed him and the Jets greatly in 2016. This year he’s been exactly what everyone expected, an ineffective turnover-prone quarterback that has no arm strength to do much of anything.
While one can’t question his leadership and veteran presence in the locker room, Fitzpatrick will more than likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments in franchise history. It’s ironic since he held out all summer long demanding for more money and after he got it, his inability to hit deep passes or receivers in stride was evident all season long. Either way, he fooled us all but at least this time around, will promptly be shown the door once this season is finally over.