In the ongoing odyssey that is the Ryan Fitzpatrick negotiations, it’s now being reported that the NY Jets haven’t exactly low-balled the free agent QB as earlier reports have suggested.
According to Newsday, there was – and still is – a three-year offer with $12 million dollars guaranteed for this coming season on the table for Fitzpatrick, despite the fact he still remains unsigned since free agency began on March 9.
“Despite reports that they have offered about $7 million or $8 million a year, their $12-million offer for 2016 is almost four times what Fitzpatrick earned last season ($3.25 million) after his trade from the Houston Texans. And indications are it’s been on the table since March.”
And as ESPN blogger Rich Cimini writes, the timing of this new information is rather curious. Fitzpatrick, speaking to the media this past week, reiterated that he’d like to return to the Jets.
“I would like to be back,” Fitzpatrick said. At the time, it was widely believed the Jets offer was an insulting $8 million, whereas quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford received much higher offers for $18 and $22 million respectively.
In this scenario, the NY Jets were seen as unfair and Fitzpatrick was the hero. In an interview with SiriusXM later that day he even brushed off the notion that he and his agents were worried about the figures some other quarterbacks were being offered.
“I know my value to a team is my value to a particular team. You’d drive yourself crazy if you look at other guys and say, ‘Why not me? Why not me?'”
That kind of down-to-Earth talk further painted the Jets and not Fitzpatrick as the obstacle in the road for getting a deal done. Ryan’s teammate, Eric Decker, then went ahead and skipped voluntary OTAs this week, opting to vacation with his wife, country singer Jesse James instead. The model posted pics of her and her hubby on the beach.
The NY Post meanwhile, reported that this vacation was actually a planned protest over the way negotiations between the Jets organization and Fitzpzatrick had progressed.
“The Jets wide receiver is staying away from this week’s voluntary OTA practices as a form of protest over Ryan Fitzpatrick remaining unsigned, according to a source.”
But now, this new information regarding a $12 million a year contract puts a wrinkle in the perceived narrative. For weeks, it was speculated that the Jets were low balling Fitzpatrick. As they entered OTAs with Geno Smith atop the depth chart, it was widely believed the Jets could rectify the situation by simply upping their offer into the double digits. Now that’s not the case. At what point does the team simply move on?
Most likely, the hold out will reach resolution by training camp. If it ends with Fitzpatrick still on the sidelines, it will fall to Geno Smith, a second year project in Bryce Petty and second round draft pick Christian Hackenberg to anchor the Jets quarterback situation. After a 10-6 season where the Jets were on the cusp of reaching the playoffs, it would seem to be a step back.
But Chan Gailey told NJ that Geno has made “giant steps” in one year.
“He’s learned so much in one year,” Gailey said. “The one game he played in last year [in Oakland], I thought he did very well. There’s always room for improvement, but I thought he did very well. And I think he’s made giant steps. I think he’s right on track for where I’d like him to be.”
And where he’ll be is at the starting quarterback position for the New York Jets if Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to reject the $12 million offer on the table.
[Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images]