AFC East Notes: Jets, Fitz, Pats, Cooper, Fins

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s new deal with the Jets is actually a two-year accord, not a one-year pact, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB (Twitter links). However, the second year is voidable and in place solely for cap purposes, Breer notes. Instead of a $12MM hit for 2016, Fitzpatrick will occupy $7MM in cap space this year and $5MM in 2017. Most of the $12MM coming to him is via signing bonus ($10MM), while the rest ($2MM) is Fitzpatrick’s base salary. The 33-year-old’s contract also includes a total of $3MM in incentives tied to playing time and team success – namely a playoff berth, AFC title game bid and Super Bowl trip – per Breer.

More on New York and two of its division rivals:

  • Fitzpatrick opted to take a one-year deal from the Jets instead of their three-year offer because he didn’t want to risk the team relegating him to a reserve role during the tail end of the contract, he said Thursday (via Connor Hughes of NJ Advance Media). “That was a deal that basically said, ‘We want you here, and then we want you to say here as the backup,'” Fitzpatrick stated. “That’s not how I view myself. I’d much rather pass up on some of that guaranteed money and just sign a one-year deal and bet on myself and see what happens.” New York has three younger options on its roster in Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, all of whom were second- to fourth-round picks between 2013 and this year. Given that Smith has struggled in the league and is set to become a free agent after the season, he wouldn’t have been a threat to Fitzpatrick had he inked a multiyear deal. The same might not have been true regarding Hackenberg or Petty, though. A second-round pick this year, Hackenberg seems like the best bet on the Jets’ roster to take over as their starter next season if Fitzpatrick is no longer on the team.
  • The Patriots have a decision to make on guard Jonathan Cooper by Friday, when his $1,713,954 roster bonus is due, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Cooper, who came to New England from Arizona in the teams’ March trade centering on Chandler Jones, has disappointed since going seventh overall in the 2013 draft. After a broken fibula cost Cooper his rookie season, he went on to start just 11 games for the Cardinals over the past two years. The 26-year-old is currently New England’s projected starter at right guard, as Roster Resource indicates.
  • The Dolphins are “pretty comfortable” with their current cornerback situation, a source told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. However, that shouldn’t necessarily be the case, opines Salguero, who wonders if the Dolphins are in trouble at the position. With second-round rookie Xavien Howard currently on the sidelines after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in June, the Dolphins are down to Tony Lippett as the starter opposite veteran Byron Maxwell. Lippett didn’t garner much playing time as a fifth-round rookie last year, though, and was a receiver at Michigan State. As for Howard, the Dolphins “expect him, at worst, to be back by the first regular-season game,” head coach Adam Gase said. But that scenario would mean missing all of camp and the preseason, thus putting the first-year man behind the 8-ball immediately.
  • Armando Salguero shared more of his thoughts on the state of the Dolphins earlier Thursday with PFR’s Zach Links.
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