The New York Jets quarterback situation for 2016 is currently in a holding pattern. By all accounts, 2015 quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his management remain far apart from the team on a contract. The Jets have offered approximately what the Philadelphia Eagles paid Chase Daniel, while Fitzpatrick is seeking something closer to what the Houston Texans paid Brock Osweiler. In the meantime, the Jets hosted Robert Griffin III for a two day visit and have continued scouting their options in the NFL Draft. Where does this all end?
The Jets have played this situation wisely. They estimated what Fitzpatrick’s market value would be and have so far been proven to be right. Nobody is beating their offer and coming anywhere near meeting Fitzpatrick’s contract demands. Only the Denver Broncos have even heard him out and they recently opted to trade an asset for Mark Sanchez, rather than continue negotiations with him. Unless a 33rd team soon joins the NFL who values Fitzpatrick at 16-18 million dollars per year, the Jets are in good shape to hold firm on their initial valuation of him.
Fitzpatrick’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, clearly overestimated his market. Teams around the NFL saw his success in New York but also know he has been on four teams in four years, that he is unlikely to replicate that success elsewhere and that he is not a long term option. You can’t blame Fitzpatrick for trying to cash in for a final payday on a career year. He is like every other player in the NFL. He wants to get paid, first and foremost. The thoughts that Fitzpatrick would voluntarily and quickly accept a team friendly deal because he is popular around the locker room were naive.
Yet, like in every negotiation, one side holds more leverage than the other. Fitzpatrick is suffering because of his agent’s miscalculation while the Jets can remain patient and explore other options. Why aren’t they in a rush to pay Fitzpatrick a monster contract? They are smart enough to learn from history, both Fitzpatrick’s history, of busting after a huge deal and their own team history of over investing in the wrong quarterback. Remember, they paid Mark Sanchez when he was 25 years old and coming off a 32 total touchdown season with four playoff wins under his belt. Fitzpatrick is 33 years old with zero career playoff games in over 100 starts.
The Jets know Fitzpatrick is a good fit in their system and on their team but not at the cost of harming the rest of the roster, especially for the long term. There was a reason he spent training camp as Geno Smith’s backup and only got the job due to IK Enemkpali’s sucker punch. They want him back but also believe they can elevate the play of another journeyman quarterback with a strong supporting cast and the right offensive system.
A close source to the team said the meetings with Griffin were highly positive. The coaching staff was impressed and intrigued with how his skill set could fit in their offense. It isn’t out of the question that the Jets would want Griffin, even if they worked something out with Fitzpatrick, as a high upside backup to push him. They prefer the pursuit of Griffin to giving up an asset for Colin Kaepernick or looking to a Brian Hoyer type option for now. There isn’t enthusiasm around the thought of just letting Geno Smith and Bryce Petty compete, as the team wants another veteran in the mix.
The Jets have done their homework on the top crop of the quarterbacks in this class but know their options could be non existent with the 20th overall pick. This also isn’t a team who is really built to have a rookie step in and start from day one.
In a perfect world, the Jets would like to sort things out sooner rather than later because it simplifies the rest of their offseason. But there is no urgent deadline approaching for them to radically increase their offer or to walk away from discussions. The ball is in Fitzpatrick;’s court and he may decide to wait or continue with bluff retirement chatter. Ultimately, his best opportunity for both money and success are in New York so that remains his most likely destination. The process has been more complicated than expected so far but that doesn’t mean this situation still can’t end how most expect it to.
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