Ryan Fitzpatrick is a backup quarterback again, which is a much better fit for him. He signed a deal on Friday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The journeyman quarterback gives Jameis Winston a bona fide backup for 2017, a slight improvement over Ryan Griffin, Sefo Liufau, and Sean Renfree (who???).
Last year, Fitzpatrick failed to capitalize on a resurgent 2015 season, posting the worst numbers of any starting quarterback in the NFL. He led the Jets to a 10-win campaign two years ago, then he held out before receiving a one-year, $10 million deal to return to New York. After posting a 31:15 touchdown-to-interception ratio in ‘15, that balance dropped to 12:17 as the passer went just 3-8 in 11 starts last fall.
Fitzpatrick’s deal with the Bucs isn’t as lucrative as his contract last season. It’s a one-year, $3 million deal, but he can earn more than that with incentives, according to Ian Rapoport.
His role in the Jets’ 5-11 year — a season in which he was replaced by both Geno Smith and Bryce Petty — essentially rang the bell on his career as a viable starting passer, but the veteran can still be a valuable asset as a savvy backup. He’s just two years removed from completing a career-high 63 percent of his passes, and though he’ll turn 35 next season, he brings leadership and experience to the Tampa Bay roster.
Fitzpatrick has spent 12 seasons in the league and has yet to play in a postseason game. He was a seventh-round pick of the Rams in the 2005 NFL draft and started three games for Saint Louis as a rookie, going 0-3 in the process. He was traded to Cincinnati after two years, where he backed up Carson Palmer.
A solid, if unspectacular, performance in a dozen starts in Palmer’s absence led him to Buffalo, where his ability to win six games a year led the Bills to gift him a six-year, $60 million contract extension in 2011. He was released fewer than 18 months later.
Stops in Tennessee and Houston followed with moderate success, but it wasn’t until he landed in New York before he finally led a team to a winning record. He pushed the Jets to the precipice of the playoffs, but a three-interception performance in Week 17 kept the franchise from returning to the postseason.