The New York Jets were rumored to be moving further away from a deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Friday’s selection of Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round of the NFL Draft may have actually given the team a chance to break the contract impasse and bring back their 2015 starter.
The Jets have been negotiating with Fitzpatrick over the course of the offseason, but the two sides don’t seem to be moving any closer together to getting a deal done, ESPN reported. With only Geno Smith and Bryce Petty on the roster, the Jets had been hoping to bring back Fitzpatrick but balked at his asking price.
Now, the selection of Christian Hackenberg could point to a new direction for the Jets, who passed on Paxton Lynch in the first round even though many draft experts placed Lynch above Hackenberg. The Jets reportedly thought very highly of the Penn State quarterback, who had already made pre-draft visit to the team’s headquarters.
Though Hackenberg had a bit of a decline as his college career went on — once seen as a potential No. 1 overall pick, Hackenberg failed to match his impressive freshman season and threw for 2,525 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions last season — the Jets have high hopes that he could bloom into a full-time starter.
The selection of Christian Hackenberg was taken by some as a sign the New York Jets are ready to move on from Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets are reportedly offering between $7 million and $8 million per season and are unwilling to budge, even though Fitzpatrick is asking for about twice that amount.
Though Fitzpatrick has run out of alternatives as other quarterback-hungry teams have scooped up alternatives, he doesn’t seem to be moving off his asking price, either. Fitzpatrick threw for a career-high 31 touchdowns and 3,905 yards in leading the Jets to a 10-6 record last season, and reportedly said he would rather sit out the season than take the offer on the table.
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has said that re-signing Fitzpatrick is still the team’s goal, but didn’t offer any more details after Friday’s first round.
“It’s the same stance we had before,” Maccagnan said. “We’re focusing on the draft primarily these next few days, so we can help the team going forward.”
Though it would seem illogical, creating a log-jam at the quarterback position could actually help the Jets bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick. As Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio reported, the selection may give the Jets a new tactic to break the contract negotiation stalemate.
“Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Jets still want to bring back Fitzpatrick, but possibly only on a one-year deal.
“That actually may help get the deal done. A league source recently told PFT that one of the sticking points between player and team relates to the fact that the Jets have been offering a three-year deal with a solid payout ($10 million or $11 million) in 2016 but much lower salaries in 2017 and 2018.”
But if the rumors don’t pan out and the New York Jets can’t sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, he may be forced to hold up to his threat to sit out. There are likely no other teams left who would sign Fitzpatrick at his asking price, and the Jets would be left with an open competition between Christian Hackenberg and Geno Smith for the starting job.
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]