We learned yesterday that Jets head coach Todd Bowles wants quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to return to the team in 2016, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Fitzpatrick is equally excited about a potential reunion with the club. The Harvard product is in the final year of a two-year, $7.25MM deal he signed with the Texans in 2014, and he will therefore be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season.
Fitzpatrick, a career journeyman who had previously been tagged with unfortunate designations like “just good enough to lose,” has seen something of a revival in New York. Thrust into the starting role after the bizarre Geno Smith/IK Enemkpali incident, Fitzpatrick has thrown 22 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions while posting a solid, if unspectacular, quarterback rating of 88.1. Most importantly, he has the Jets in the midst of the playoff hunt.
Because the Jets are currently 7-5, they will likely not finish low enough in the standings to nab one of the top quarterback options in the 2016 draft. And even though Fitzpatrick has performed well in two consecutive seasons–he threw for 17 TDs against eight interceptions for the Texans in 2014 while putting up a 95.3 quarterback rating–he will still be relatively inexpensive. Given that, and given that Fitzpatrick is clicking with top wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker while settling nicely into offensive coordinator Chan Gailey‘s offense, it makes sense that the Jets would explore a new contract prior to the February scouting combine.
Fitzpatrick, for his part, has developed a strong relationship with Gailey and has appeared to enjoy his time in New York, where he has expertly navigated the unique New York media situation and evolved into an undisputed locker room leader. Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday writes that Bowles had “a lot of input” in the team’s decision to trade a seventh-round draft choice for Fitzpatrick last March, and the move has clearly paid off for all parties involved (except, perhaps, for Houston). As such, all signs are pointing towards Fitzpatrick landing a multiyear contract from the club within the next few months.