Barring a “significant breakthrough” in their contract negotiations, the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick aren’t expected to reach a contract agreement prior to the draft, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). As Rapoport notes, that could add some intrigue to the Jets’ draft approach.
While the Jets have made it clear that Fitzpatrick is their preferred option at quarterback, the two sides have been at an impasse since the signal-caller’s contract expired last month. The team has reportedly offered the 33-year-old an incentive-heavy deal which doesn’t feature an annual average salary in line with what most other veteran starters around the league are earning.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has been pushing for a per-year salary closer to what quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford received on their new deals — neither Osweiler nor Bradford had as strong a season as the Jets signal-caller did in 2015, but they each got contracts in the neighborhood of $18MM annually. Fitzpatrick, who is several years older than Osweiler and Bradford, likely isn’t seeking that sort of money, but it makes sense that he’d be after a salary in the $14-15MM range.
An 11-year veteran, Fitzpatrick is coming off the best season of his NFL career. The former seventh-round pick established new career highs by throwing for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns, and led the Jets to a 10-6 record, just narrowly missing a playoff berth.
With the Jets and Fitzpatrick not making real progress, the club will likely continue to mull its fallback options as the draft approaches. The Texans are releasing Brian Hoyer, and there have been indications that the Jets will at least kick the tires on Hoyer, perhaps bringing him in for a visit.
Additionally, as Rapoport alludes to, the Jets could target a quarterback on one of the first two days of the draft if they’re not optimistic about bringing back Fitzpatrick. Of course, the threat of signing Hoyer or drafting a QB could also create some additional leverage for the Jets in their talks with Fitzpatrick.
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