It seems that Ryan Fitzpatrick is losing leverage, and while it never looked like he’d seriously leave the New York Jets, he’s also drifting further and further away from getting the contract he wants.
The Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers seem to be trying to work out a deal for Colin Kaepernick. Whether this works out or not, the Broncos don’t plan on throwing too much money at a quarterback, which makes Fitzpatrick fall off their radar. The 49ers have the money to pursue Fitzpatrick with or without Kaepernick on their payroll, with or without the pay cut everyone wants him to take. However, they haven’t been linked to him in this offseason, and they probably plan to stay away from expensive veterans while they pursue their rebuilding through the draft plan.
The Cleveland Browns were the other out for Fitzpatrick, but they signed Robert Griffin III and plan on drafting a quarterback with the second overall pick. Fitzpatrick, who got offered $8 million by the Jets while asking for around $16 million himself, is losing leverage, and is more and more likely to eventually sign with the Jets, or simply not play at all. It’s hard to believe that a 33-year old quarterback who is coming off the best season of his career will suddenly call it quits.
The Broncos never had the money for Fitzpatrick anyway, but the moment that option is sealed the Jets might be able to go back to their low-ball offer or something around that without giving Fitzpatrick much of a choice. In an offseason that saw Brock Osweiler, someone with only seven starts as an NFL quarterback since entering the league, get an $18 million per season contract from the Houston Texans, it’s weird to think Fitzpatrick will have to settle for such a low amount, relatively.
But just like in the baseball offseason, those who wait usually get hurt financially. The Jets feel like they have a backup in Geno Smith that can step in and might even draft a quarterback later on, with some interesting options that aren’t projected to be very high picks. Fitzpatrick also had his bad games last season, especially in what could have been the playoff clincher against the Buffalo Bills. But for all the talk about the rise in salaries, especially for quarterbacks due to the rising salary cap, it seems like that trend is passing Fitzpatrick without affecting him. At least not in a good way.