Ryan Fitzpatrick has signed with the Tennessee Titans, giving the team an insurance policy against inconsistent starting quarterback Jake Locker.
The Titans announced the deal with Fitzpatrick on Monday, not long after announcing that they cut aging veteran Matt Hasselbeck. In signing Fitzpatrick, the team now has one of the better backups in the league, as Locker is expected to go into training camp as the starter.
With a resurgent Chris Johnson in 2012, the Titans are looking to build off of their 6-10 season, and the upgrade at backup quarterback will be a help.
The 30-year-old Fitzpatrick was released earlier in March by the Buffalo Bills after failing to advance the team as the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick showed flashes of stellar play, especially in leading the team to a 5-2 start in 2011 that earned him a six-year, $59 million contract extension that October.
But Fitzpatrick struggled with inconsistency, throwing 64 interceptions to go with 80 touchdowns in his 55 games in Buffalo. Last season, he had a number of interceptions late in games or on potential game-winning drives, and the team that many thought as a wild card contender finished 6-10 for the second straight season.
Fitzpatrick still finished his tenure in Buffalo as No. 3 all-time in passing touchdowns and No. 4 for total passing yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely get a chance to show his stuff again. Locker has struggled with injuries during his two years in Tennessee, missing several games.
Still, experts see Locker as the Titans’ best chance of success.
“Barring injury, if the Titans need to turn to their backup, it likely means Mike Munchak’s third season as the team’s coach will be his last,” wrote ESPN blogger Mike Kuharsky. “His replacement will undoubtedly set out to find a different quarterback altogether.
In Tennessee, Ryan Fitzpatrick will have a reunion of sorts with some former teammates. In the offseason, the Titans picked up former Bills guard Andy Levitre and safety George Wilson.