The Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have finally ended their months-long contract standoff, agreeing Wednesday to a one-year, fully guaranteed pact worth $12MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Fitzpatrick can make an extra $3MM in incentives and rake in $15MM total, though the Jets would have to win the Super Bowl for him to earn that money, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.
The news of the Jets and Fitzpatrick reaching a deal comes as little surprise after Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier Wednesday that negotiations were “heating up” on the eve of the Jets starting training camp practice. However, the Jets previously didn’t want to give Fitzpatrick a one-year contract, notes ESPN’s Rich Cimini, who adds that the sizable extension awarded to defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson earlier this month opened up enough cap room ($5.7MM) for New York to re-sign the signal-caller. The Jets significantly increased their offer from $8MM to $12MM on Wednesday and informed Fitzpatrick to either take it by 7 p.m. ET or they’d move on, reports Schefter (Twitter link via Cimini).
Fitzpatrick, 33, and the Jets had fought since March over the 11-year veteran’s worth. After Fitzpatrick posted career-high totals in touchdowns (31) and yards (3,905) last season for a 10-win Jets team that narrowly missed the playoffs, he reportedly sought a multiyear accord worth between $12MM and $16MM in annual value. The Jets had other ideas in regards to average salary, however, having presented him a three-year, $24MM offer that featured $15MM in guarantees. New York also played with the idea of offering Fitzpatrick the chance to opt out after the first of three years, but he rejected that, per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). While Fitzpatrick will haul in $3MM less in total guarantees with his new deal, the fact that it’s only over one year will give him a chance to cash in again in the future.
Although negotiations between the Jets and Fitzpatrick didn’t go as smoothly as either hoped, the fact that he’ll remain a member of Gang Green seems like a win for both sides. Barring injury, Fitzpatrick wouldn’t have found another starting job on the open market this summer, and the Jets couldn’t have gone into the season expecting to break their five-year playoff drought with Geno Smith under center. Smith has been a disappointment since New York used a second-round pick on him in the 2013 draft, while fellow Jets passers Christian Hackenberg (a second-round rookie) and Bryce Petty (a fourth-rounder in 2015) have combined for zero NFL snaps.
With a strong defense, an excellent receiving tandem (Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker) and an accomplished veteran running back (Matt Forte) in place, the Fitzpatrick-led Jets should have a chance to push for a postseason berth this year. And, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady set to miss a quarter of the season because of a suspension, New York undoubtedly has its eyes on an AFC East title. Whether that’s realistic is highly debatable, but the Jets seem to stand a greater chance of accomplishing it now that Fitzpatrick is back in the driver’s seat.
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