At 23:58 (18:58 New York time), NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted simply that ‘The Jets are signing Ryan Fitzpatrick.’ New York Jets fans have had to wait six stressful months for these six simple words in a contract stalemate that reminded many of Darrelle Revis’ famous pre-season holdout back in 2010. It’s easy to see why many fans expected the Jets and the former Harvard man to come to an agreement as the Jets were staring at the prospect of a return to ‘Geno nation’ something I’m sure the majority of Jets fans cringed at. However, did the Jets do the right thing by ending the six-month stand off and resigning Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $12 million deal?
(Danny Wild/ USA TODAY sports)
The agreement was a good deal for both sides
Geno Smith. Bryce Petty. Christian Hackenberg. It is easy to see why the Jets were eager to resign Ryan Fitzpatrick when Gang Green were facing the prospect of entering the regular season with either the turnover machine that is Geno Smith at QB or choose between second-year man Bryce Petty or rookie Christian Hackenberg who between them have 0 attempts in the National Football League. Ryan Fitzpatrick at 33 years old had arguably his best year as a pro last season and emerged as a leader within the locker room. Fitzpatrick also got the most out of a talented roster that had failed to post a winning season since 2010. You only need to take a look at the numbers that the Fitzpatrick led Jets posted last season compared to the previous three to understand why both sides reached an agreement.
Clearly from a numbers standpoint, it’s easy to see why General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were keen to see Fitzpatrick return. 2015 saw the emergence of a dangerous two-headed passing attack as Brandon Marshall caught the most TD’s in the League (14) and Eric Decker posted the third highest total (12). The Jets for the first time in three years were not bottom three in the League in passing statistics and their established running attack from years gone by did not take a step back as the Jets emerged as a pass first team for the first time since 2011. The Jets passed 57.4% of the time and racked up 33 passing TD’s, double the total they posted in each of the past three seasons.
Based on the numbers the Jets put up last season it is easy to see why star Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall immediately sent this out on Instagram.
Indeed Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have both been cheerleaders for Ryan Fitzpatrick this off-season with Marshall even posting photos on social media encouraging Fitzpatrick to sign with the Jets. Despite Fitzpatrick turning 34 later this year, the former-Havard man told reporters in his first appearance since ending the six-month saga “I’m getting better as a quarterback”. Fitzpatrick went on to say “A lot of that is an understanding of the game, of myself, of who I’m playing against. So I think there’s been a nice upward trend in my career of getting better as I get older…. This is the fifth year that I’m going into the year as a starter. So it’s not like I’ve had a 12-year career where every year I’ve been the starter. There have been a lot of times when I’ve been the backup. So there’s been a lot of growth in my career. I’m just excited for the opportunity this year, but I think I’m going to continue to get better.”
When you look around the League, it is clear that when it comes to playing Quarterback, age is simply just a number. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning (except last season), Drew Brees and Carson Palmer have all posted impressive numbers late into the supposed twilight of their careers. It is clear that from a head coach and playing perspective, signing Fitzpatrick for another year clearly makes sense. The Jets have spent second round picks on their three other current QB’s and they will hope that either Petty or Hackenberg will be able to develop by having an experienced head like Fitzpatrick in the Quarterback room.
The signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick also makes sense from a front office and General Manager’s perspective. Fitzpatrick’s deal at $12 million over one year makes a lot of sense for the Jets when you compare it to the contract the Texans just handed Brock Osweilier ($72 million over four years; $18 million per season). The Fitzpatrick deal works out similar to the contract the Los Angeles Rams handed Nick Foles, $12,250,000 a year (a player who was recently released). It is clear that if Fitzpatrick can work his Fitzmagic, like he did most of last season, then the Jets have managed to sign themselves a steady pair of hands who can throw open their talented pair of receivers. Fitzpatrick is also a twelve year veteran who the Jets will hope will be able to mentor both Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as the organization again takes another step away from the Geno Smith experiment.
Playing devil’s advocate
The New York Jets have three, second-round picks currently in their Quarterback room and with an above average Offensive Line, the recent signing of Matt Forte and two stars in the Wide Receiver room, I am certain there would have been some Jets fans who would have been intrigued with the prospect of a training camp QB battle with the winner being handed the keys to Santa’s workshop. The Jets have a top ten Defence on paper and Matt Forte is a back who has consistently proved he is not only useful running between the numbers but equally as effective catching the ball out of the backfield. However, I said only some, as most Jets fans would likely have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the news broke late last night that the six-month contract stalemate was over.
(Chris Pedota/ The Record)
Although the argument could be made that last year was clearly Fitzpatrick’s best as a pro, yet his turnover problem still plagued him as he threw 15 Interceptions. He also posted a sub-60 competition percentage for the first time since 2010. While Fitzpatrick is a steady pair of hands and is certainly a leader in the Jets locker room, it is intriguing to imagine current free-agent Nick Foles lining up under centre for the Jets with the tools that Fitzpatrick will have in the 2016 season. Would any Jets fans say Foles over Fitzpatrick? Unlikely. What would most have said if they were asked before the start of the 2015 season? Who knows.
It is clear to see that the Jets organisation along with many of their fans breathed a huge sigh of relief last night as Fitzpatrick signed on for another season. The deal is extremely team friendly at only $12million on a one-year deal. The Jets will also get one of their leaders in the locker room back who can mentor their young quarterback room. The talented roster that the Jets now boast with a level-headed play caller under centre is something that will have many contemplating whether this season is the year that the Patriots are finally knocked off their crown atop the AFC East. With Tom Brady missing the first four games of the season and Fitzpatrick returning to a system that he clearly feels comfortable in, it could finally be the year that fans in New York get to sing J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS into the post-season and beyond.