A year ago, Ryan Fitzpatrick was embroiled in a standoff with the New York Jets that was among the bigger summer NFL storylines. This year, Fitzpatrick quietly will sign with a team for which he has no chance of earning a starting job.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Fitzpatrick, 34, to be the backup to Jameis Winston, and it’s a solid move for the Bucs, who otherwise would have entered training camp without a backup with NFL experience of note following the free-agent departure of Mike Glennon to the Chicago Bears. Rich Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times first reported the news.
The Bucs’ only other options were former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, who has never taken a regular-season NFL snap, and Sean Renfree, the former Atlanta Falcons reserve who attempted seven career passes in two prior seasons. All three will battle for one or two QB spots behind Winston, the clear starter who could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Fitzpatrick signed a one-year, $12 million deal a year ago on the eve of training camp and was a disaster, throwing 10 interceptions in his first four starts (three losses) and eventually lost the job before returning to the starting lineup later in the season. Despite a handful of respectable performances scattered throughout the season, Fitzpatrick called it the most difficult year of his 12-year career.
If he makes the Bucs’ roster, this will be Fitzpatrick’s seventh NFL squad. He has thrown for 166 TDs and 133 INTs in 116 starts for the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Jets.
Of course, many will continue to wonder why Fitzpatrick would get a job prior to Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned despite possible interest from the Seattle Seahawks. That has yet to happen and yet still could, but questions remain about why seemingly lesser talents get work before Kaepernick does. That said, without knowing yet what Fitzpatrick signed for or what Kaepernick’s contract demands might be (or whether there’s something looming with the Seahawks, who might be a better fit), it’s hard to compare their situations apples to apples.
Still, Fitzpatrick has a job for now. After last season, it wasn’t clear that might happen. That’s how fast things change after many Jets fans breathed a sigh of relief that he was coming back last July. Funny how much can change in a matter of months.
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