Ryan Fitzpatrick

Poll: Which Team’s New QB Will Have Best Season?

While this offseason did not bring quite the same level of quarterback movement 2018’s did, a handful of teams will deploy new starters. Draft choices, trade acquisitions and free agent signings will be given the keys to offenses that struggled last season.

The Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars and Redskins made moves to fortify their quarterback jobs. Which team’s investment will work out best?

Denver will use a different starting quarterback for the third straight year. Joe Flacco is set to be the Broncos’ fourth starter since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. While his QBR figure (58.7) was better than any the former Ravens starter had posted since a quality 2014 season, Flacco still ranked 20th in that metric last season. Having never made a Pro Bowl and fresh off back-to-back years featuring injury trouble, with a back problem limiting him during the 2017 offseason and a hip injury beginning the Lamar Jackson era, the 34-year-old starter will try to revive his career in Denver. Flacco, though, is the most accomplished quarterback the Broncos have employed since Manning.

The other surefire veteran starter acquired this year, Foles will have his first chance to be a team’s unquestioned first-stringer since 2015. The 30-year-old flourished in his second Philadelphia stint, submitting an all-time postseason run in 2017 and helping the Eagles back to the playoffs last season. A 2013 Pro Bowler, Foles will take over a Jaguars team that does not possess the kind of aerial weaponry recent Eagles rosters did. Jacksonville is in line to have Marqise Lee back from a torn ACL, but the team’s wideouts and tight ends will place additional emphasis on Foles living up to his contract. With the Rams in 2015, Foles threw seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions before being benched.

Kyler Murray represents the other locked-in starter added this offseason. The electric one-year Oklahoma starter accomplished about as much as a college passer can in a single season, turning in Division I-FBS’ second-ever 4,000-1,000 season en route to Heisman Trophy honors. Working with Kliff Kingsbury, Larry Fitzgerald and a host of young wide receivers, Murray is the centerpiece of one of the most daring experiments an NFL team has attempted.

The Cardinals turned the keys over to a sub-.500 college coach and a 5-foot-10 signal-caller — the first sub-6-foot passer to be chosen in Round 1. Arizona trotted out the league’s worst scoring and total offense last season, however, and sported a skeleton-crew offensive line by year’s end. The Cards added new starters Marcus Gilbert and J.R. Sweezy up front. Due to the lack of precedent behind this move, it is hard to tell how Murray will fare. But the unique talent has opened as Las Vegas’ offensive rookie of the year favorite.

Washington and Miami have not committed to a starting quarterback yet, but it is fairly safe to project Dwayne Haskins and Josh Rosen will see extensive time. While Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick could log starts, with the latter possibly even on track to do so, the Redskins have liked what their first-round pick has done so far and the Dolphins will need to see Rosen in games to help determine if they will consider a first-round QB in 2020. On the heels of a 50-touchdown pass season, the Ohio State product sits second in offensive rookie of the year odds. Although only eight passers have won this award since 1957, seven such instances have occurred since 2004.

Both Daniel Jones and Drew Lock could factor into their respective teams’ mixes later in the season. Of the 13 first-round QBs taken over the past four years, only Patrick Mahomes and Paxton Lynch were not promoted to the starting role as rookies. (Though, Eli Manning is not your typical stopgap.) Lock was projected by most as a first-rounder, and Flacco ceded his role to the No. 32 overall pick last year. So the 12th-year veteran’s grip on Denver’s job should be considered tenuous.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Dolphins Sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Dolphins have signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s a two-year, $11MM deal that could reach $17-20MM via incentives, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Miami traded former starter Ryan Tannehill and a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Titans on Friday, acquiring a 2019 sixth-rounder and a 2020 fourth-round pick while absorbing $5MM of Tannehill’s $7MM 2019 base salary. That left the Dolphins will only two quarterbacks on its roster: former sixth-rounders Jake Rudock and Luke Falk, who have combined to attempt five passes in the NFL (all by Rudock).

Fitzpatrick was the best signal-caller still available on the open market, especially after the Dolphins reportedly tried — and failed — to land both Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater. Taylor opted to sign a two-year to backup Philip Rivers with the Chargers, while Bridgewater decided to return to New Orleans on a one-year, fully guaranteed $7.25MM contract.

Fitzpatrick excelled — at times — with the Buccaneers in 2018, but after what was an uneven overall campaign, Tampa Bay indicated it would deploy Jameis Winston as its full-time starter for the upcoming season. Ever mercurial, Fitzpatrick started the first three games of the year while Winston was on suspension, and tossed 11 touchdowns against four interceptions while completing more than 70% of his passes.

Things unraveled against a league-best Bears defense in Week 4, and Fitzpatrick lost his job to Winston. The 36-year-old Fitzpatrick relieved a struggling Winston in Week 7 versus the Bengals and threw four touchdowns the following week, but after five total interceptions in Weeks 9-10, Fitzpatrick was permanently demoted. All told, Fitzpatrick finished the year having completed 66.7% of his passes for 2,366 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 12 picks.

The addition of Fitzpatrick shouldn’t preclude the Dolphins from selecting a quarterback early in the 2019 draft, but it’s unclear if they plan to do so. Miami is embarking on a full-scale rebuild, so the club may attempt to bottom out this season in an effort to compile more long-term assets.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick Leaning Toward Coming Back For 15th Season

The Buccaneers are likely to have a new coaching staff in place soon, and none of their three quarterbacks are locked into 2019 roster spots. The oldest of those players, however, is not quite ready to retire.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is leaning toward coming back for a 15th NFL season, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

This week, Fitzpatrick will be the Bucs’ No. 3 quarterback, behind Jameis Winston and Ryan Griffin, Auman adds. Although the Bucs’ highest point of the season came when Fitzmagic had them at 2-0, he was twice benched for Winston. The fourth-year Bucs starter has a guaranteed-for-injury $20MM salary for 2019, but it’s far from certain he will be back.

Fitzpatrick signed two one-year deals with the Bucs over the past two years, the most recent for $3.3MM. He will certainly attract interest from teams looking for a backup quarterback. Fitz has posted four 400-yard games this season, doing so in just seven starts, and still has a 9.6 yards-per-attempt figure to go along with a 66.7 percent completion rate.

Free agency is set to include younger passers like Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor and (probably) Nick Foles. They may receive more attention as bridge-starter-type options. Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill are also rumored to be available, complicating next year’s market. But Fitzpatrick could receive a look as well from teams looking for mentors/stopgaps for their to-be-determined rookie signal-callers. The Bucs shouldn’t be ruled out on this front, either, particularly if they do choose to move on from Winston.

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Bucs To Start Jameis Winston Vs. 49ers

The Buccaneers will turn the starting job back over to quarterback Jameis Winston for Sunday’s game against the 49ers, according to Scott Smith of the team website (on Twitter). The move was expected after Winston played well in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday. 

After entering Sunday’s game against the Giants, Winston completed 12 of his 16 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on the final play of the game. Winston led the Bucs to touchdowns on four straight drives, leaving coaches with more confidence in him than in Fitzpatrick, who lobbed three interceptions.

The 3-7 Bucs are likely out of the playoff picture, but these final six games will be crucial to Winston’s future with Tampa Bay. Winston is under club control through the 2019 campaign via the fifth-year option, but the option is guaranteed for injury only and the Bucs can escape the hefty $20.9MM price tag if they want to. There’s a risk that Winston falters and suffers a serious injury down the stretch, but head coach Dirk Koetter is on the hot seat and aiming to win now.

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South Rumors: Irvin, Dez, Fitz, Titans

Bruce Irvin clearing waivers and landing with the Falcons gives him a chance to earn nearly $10MM this season. His one-year (or, eight-game) Falcons deal is worth $1.5MM, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Irvin was playing on an $8MM salary with the Raiders this season, and Florio notes he can recoup the balance of that salary ($3.76MM) by filing a termination pay claim. Vested veterans (at least four seasons’ experience) can do this one in their careers, and this may be the most money Irvin, 31, can claim through this measure. Total, the seventh-year veteran can collect $9.75MM this season. Considering he entered the year with no more guarantees remaining in his deal, that’s not a bad haul.

Here’s more from the Irvin front, along with the latest from the South divisions:

  • With Irvin rejoining a Dan Quinn defense, this one housing recent first-round defensive ends Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley, he won’t be the unquestioned top edge rusher like he was in Oakland. However, Quinn — who coached Irvin with the Seahawks — is planning a NASCAR package with the three ends and Grady Jarrett, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Quinn said the team will use the trio on the field together in practice this week in preparation to deploy the speed set a game at some point. The Falcons’ 17 sacks rank 27th in the league. Beasley has just one and is Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded full-time edge defender this season.
  • A six-plus-month stay in free agency ended for Dez Bryant earlier Wednesday, but the new Saints wide receiver is still looking to return to the market in 2019. Bryant wants to prove himself on a contending team and become a free agent again, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes. This has been Bryant’s plan all along, and he’ll likely join Tre’Quan Smith as a key complementary receiver for Drew Brees.
  • The Buccaneers won’t be pivoting back to Jameis Winston this week. Dirk Koetter confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter in Week 10. Although Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in a 42-28 loss to the Panthers, he led the Bucs back from 35-7 and made it a one-score game. Tampa Bay ranks first in pass offense (356.6 yards per game) by more than 30 yards.
  • The TitansMalcolm Butler signing hasn’t worked out the way the team had hoped yet. Signed to a five-year, $61.25MM deal, Butler has struggled in coverage and rates as PFF’s No. 98 cornerback through eight games. Mike Vrabel, though, does not plan to bench Butler. The first-year coach attributes some of the defender’s woes to reading the wrong keys, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
  • Tennessee may have to temporarily demote Jack Conklin, though. The right tackle starter is in concussion protocol after the Titans’ win over the Cowboys. Conklin already missed this season’s first four games because of the ACL tear he suffered in last year’s playoffs. Conklin has started five games this year and was on the field for all 32 Tennessee regular-season contests during his first two NFL seasons.

Buccaneers To Start Fitzpatrick, Bench Winston

The Fitzmagic is back in Tampa. On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback in Week 9 over Jameis Winston

Winston began the year by serving a multi-game suspension and Fitzpatrick made the most of the opportunity. At least, he did for a little while. Fitzpatrick led the Bucs to upset wins over the Saints and Eagles in his first two weeks and nearly got the W over the Steelers in Week 3. Things fell apart for the veteran in Week 4 against the Bears’ top-notch defense, putting Winston back into the lineup.

Unfortunately, the FSU product hasn’t fared well in recent weeks. On Sunday, Winston lobbed four interceptions and the Bucs offense only regained life when Fitzpatrick was called upon to lead the charge. The Bucs scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late as the Bengals won 37-34.

The decision to bench Winston may have ramifications beyond the 2018 season. The former No. 1 overall pick is tied to the team through 2019 through his fifth-year option, but that option is guaranteed for injury only. If the Bucs keep Winston on the pine, they can move on from him this offseason without the specter of a $20MM+ obligation.

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Bucs To Start Jameis Winston

Fitzmagic is no more. On Monday, coach Dirk Koetter announced that Jameis Winston will be the Bucs’ starting quarterback when they face the Falcons in Week 6. 

[RELATED: Bucs’ O.J. Howard To Miss Time]

Winston was suspended for the first three games of the season and Fitzpatrick was stellar in his absence – at least through the first two games. Fitzpatrick had an up-and-down Week 3 against the Steelers and the wheels completely came off on Sunday against the Bears. When Winston took over, he outperformed the Harvard product by completing 16 of 20 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. Winston threw a pair of picks in the process, but he still looks like the more promising option of the two.

Winston is under club control through the 2019 season thanks to his fifth-year option. The option, guaranteed for injury only, is worth $20.9MM. If Winston plays well from here on out, the Bucs will have an easy call to make in the offseason. If he falters, Winston could hit the free agent market, where he can still cash in due to positional scarcity.

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Bucs Bench Ryan Fitzpatrick For Jameis Winston

Active for the first time after serving his three-game suspension, it didn’t take long for Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to see the field. The former first-overall pick replaced starter Ryan Fitzpatrick during the second half of Tampa Bay’s loss to the Bears today.

The Buccaneers offense struggled mightily with Fitzpatrick in the game. Before being benched, the veteran quarterback had completed nine of his 18 pass attempts for only 126 yards. He also threw an interception and was sacked twice. Winston ended up finishing the game having completed 16 of his 20 pass attempts for 145 yards, one touchdown, and two picks. He also added a single seven-yard rush. After the game, head coach Dirk Koetter said Winston had probably done enough to earn the starting nod for his team’s Week 6 contest against the Falcons (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter).

Fitzpatrick got off to a roaring start this season, as he compiled at least 400 passing yards and four touchdowns in each of his first two games. However, the 35-year-old threw three interceptions during last week’s loss to the Steelers, and Koetter admitted to his team that he almost replaced the veteran with backup Ryan Griffin.

Some wondered whether this was an attempt by the organization to lay the foundation for Winston’s inevitable return to the lineup. When the team announced that Fitzpatrick would be starting today’s game, they partly attributed the decision to the fact that Winston had had less than a week of practice under his belt. Koetter had previously said the coaching staff would reevaluate the quarterback position during the upcoming bye week.

While Fitzpatrick may have won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award following his performance in the Bucs’ first two games, it’s sounding like he’ll probably be riding the pine when the Bucs return to the field in Week 6.

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Latest On Buccaneers’ QB Situation

Although the Buccaneers could not conjure quite enough FitzMagic to pull off a comeback win against the Steelers on Monday, Tampa Bay will start Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Bears this afternoon, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). This was the expected move given how well Fitzpatrick has generally played through the first three weeks of the season and in light of the fact that the team is on a short week this week.

Plus, we heard earlier this month that Fitzpatrick would remain under center for as long as he performs at a high level. But according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter told his team during a meeting on Wednesday that he was “one or two plays away” from lifting Fitzpatrick on Monday night in favor of backup Ryan Griffin. At the time Koetter was contemplating that move, Fitzpatrick had just thrown his third interception and the club was trailing Pittsburgh 23-7.

Koetter, of course, did not end up pulling Fitzpatrick, but the fact that he made his thought process known to his team took some Buccaneers by surprise. Some players simply took Koetter’s words at face value, but some wondered whether he was laying a foundation for Jameis Winston to return, perhaps as soon as Week 6 (Tampa Bay has a bye in Week 5). After all, the team still views Winston as its long-term quarterback, so it stands to reason that he will be under center at some point soon, even if Fitzpatrick continues to overachieve.

Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports that the Bucs will reassess their QB situation during their bye week, and that Koetter has informed Fitzpatrick and Winston of his plans. Koetter said, “We know what we’re going to do. Both guys know what we’re going to do. Hope everybody can appreciate that it doesn’t do us any good to tell our opponents what we’re going to do.”

Winston was not permitted to practice at the team facility during his suspension, but Laine writes that he brought in quarterbacks coaches George Whitfield and John Beck and longtime trainer Otis Leverette to help him maintain the same schedule he had with the Bucs, and the group conducted daily workouts with 25 free agents and former teammates.

Winston’s initiative impressed Koetter, who said, “Hats off to Jameis for putting together a group of guys to do what he did…Jameis is a quarterback, coach and GM all at the same time — perfect. I think there is a little adjustment period, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to move along as quickly as we can.”

Reading between the lines, it certainly seems as if Winston may be starting for the Bucs in Week 6.

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