When Ryan Fitzpatrick became a free agent on March 9th, I doubt he expected to go 128 days without signing a contract. In the end though, it paid off for Fitz.
The money isn’t the main reason Fitzpatrick got the better of the Jets in these negotiations. Although to get their offer to go from an average of $8 million a year which wasn’t guaranteed to $12 million guaranteed with incentives that can bring it to $15 million. That’s almost double the money if Fitz plays like he did last year. And imagine if he does do that.
Fitzpatrick set career highs in yards with 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns, and a 63.6 QBR. Those ranked 15th, 10th, and 12th league wide in those stats. Now I could sit here and harp on the fact that those numbers are not deserving of the lowest paid starting quarterback not on a rookie deal in the NFL, but Fitz’s contract allows him to make way more money than previous ones offered.
Originally the Jets wanted to lock up Fitzpatrick for 3 years. There was no way Fitz was taking that deal. Finally he was able to get the Jets down to a 1 year deal. If Fitz can have a similar season to what he had last year, he won’t have to play under the same $12 million salary. He’ll have the freedom to once again seek a pay increase more worthy of his play with the Jets.
Now that’s “if” Fitzpatrick has a similar year to last year. There are two major factors on whether that will happen. For one, the Jets offense is largely the same as last year barring a running back change from Chris Ivory to Matt Forte. Forte should even be a better fit for Chan Gailey’s offense than Ivory was. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are still there, so it’s hard to see why the offense would be less productive last year.
The other factor is the Jets schedule this year. If you haven’t seen this train-wreck, here it is.
That is one road of horror for the Jets. The Jets could be even better than last year, and they won’t have the same record. While the Jets probably went from a 4-12 team with Geno Smith, to at least a 7 win team with Ryan Fitzpatrick, it’s hard to see them being a great team. How could that effect a Fitzpatrick contract next year?
What if Fitzpatrick has a great year again, but the Jets go 8-8 and miss the playoffs? The Jets may convince themselves that he’s worth less money because of the teams record. Not only is that wrong to do, it’s not smart to do. The moment a team attaches a win-loss record to a player’s resume, they’re no longer judging the player.
My prediction is that Fitzpatrick will come in around 4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He will want another pay raise from the Jets, and because they once again will miss the playoffs, they will factor that into the negotiations and Ryan Fitzpatrick will leave to get the money he rightfully deserves.