It has been over two months since the new league year began, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has not re-signed with the New York Jets.
After one of the best seasons in his career, Fitzpatrick and the Jets are in a standoff over a new contract, and as it shows no signs of coming to an end, it appears to be getting more intense.
Late in April, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that while the Jets and Fitzpatrick remain in a stalemate, Fitzpatrick was so disinterested in the Jets’ offer of about $8 million per year, that he would rather sit out than accept it.
On Tuesday, CBS’ Jason La Canfora reported that those close to Fitzpatrick feel that sitting out isn’t a realistic desire for him, but he still remains unmoved by the offer.
Still, the two sides of the argument has divided the NFL world and those close to Fitzpatrick, who according to Schefter, would like double what the Jets are offering.
On Tuesday, Jets receiver Eric Decker, who had over 1,000 receiving yards in 2015 while catching passes from Fitzpatrick, continued his campaign for the Jets to re-sign the quarterback. Decker admitted he was surprised by the Jets’ selection of Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round of the draft, then expressed his desire to have Fitzpatrick back (via ESPN’s Rich Cimini).
“I was a little surprised, to be honest with you. But Mike [Maccagnan, the general manager] and his scouts do their research and homework for a reason and they saw something special with [Hackenberg]. I guess they wanted him earlier than later.
“Just because of the camaraderie I built and the relationship we had last year, and what we can build upon, I think [Fitzpatrick] definitely is the right man for the type of team we have now. It’s a team that’s ready to win now, and we need someone with a veteran presence at the quarterback position. My job is to catch the ball, but obviously, I want what’s best for the team — and that relationship I want as well.”
It’s the latest move by Decker and fellow 1,000-yard receiver Brandon Marshall campaigning for Fitzpatrick. During the first day of the Jets’ offseason program, Decker and Marshall reportedly sent Fitzpatrick a video of plays that need to be improved as a tease recruiting video.
Others seem less inclined to bend to Fitzpatrick’s contract desires — like Jets owner Woody Johnson. Johnson told reporters on Tuesday, “By training camp, you’ve really got to have your quarterback in there. We’ve got some time here. Training camp is not for another couple of months. I don’t think there’s any real urgency at this point.”
That doesn’t sound like someone who is dying to have Fitzpatrick back on the team.
Additionally, former Jet Bart Scott recently ripped Fitzpatrick’s contract demands on NFL Radio on Sirius XM, saying “you don’t get to cash in twice.”
“Fitz don’t have a leg to stand on, man. He is who he is… On another 20 teams in the league, he would be a backup. The only teams that he would start for are the teams that have bad quarterback situations. He’s a bridge guy, a glue guy.
“OK, he wants $15 [million] because [Brock] Osweiler. But he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. They’re paying for his potential, what he might be able to become. It’s all downhill right now for Fitz…
“All these people are tripping about money and respect. Man, come on, man. It’s a lot of people out there that are underpaid and there are a lot of people that are overpaid. … You don’t get to cash in twice, bro. It’s only 32 jobs. If you don’t take it, somebody will. One thing I know about the NFL is they will turn the page and move on.”
It’s an awkward situation, with Jets management clearly feeling that Fitzpatrick is not worth his asking price, while Jets players openly pine for him to return to the team.
Interestingly, the leverage appears to be equal for both sides. Few teams have quarterback openings, and those that do seemingly won’t pay what Fitzpatrick wants. At the same time, the Jets don’t seem all-in on starting Geno Smith, and second-year quarterback Bryce Petty and Hackenberg aren’t ready to start full-time. Fitzpatrick certainly tops the quarterbacks still on the free agent market.
There’s no end in sight for this stalemate, but as it gets closer to training camps, the situation figures to heat up.
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