The New York Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed like a match made in heaven in 2015. Coming into the 2015 season it was hard to see a scenario where Fitzpatrick would not be the Jets quarterback in 2016. That is, until Sam Bradford signed a 2-year / 35 Million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then all hell broke loose.
The NY Jets are cashed strapped, and Fitzpatrick thinks he is better than Bradford is (and he might be right) and deserves the same payday Bradford got. The rest of the league obviously does not think he deserves that kind of money, and now Fitzpatrick and the Jets are stuck in a stare down, waiting to see who will blink first.
In my opinion, moving on from Fitzpatrick may be the best thing to do. While it may be the best course of action for the 2016 season, it may be the best thing the New York Jets can do for the future of their franchise.
Fitzpatrick may be the best option now, but his 2015 season was vastly over-rated. He was inaccurate throwing the football, finishing 29th in the NFL in completion percentage and 24th in QB rating. He seemed to shrink in the biggest games, and finished 0-6 in games where the Jets opponents scored twenty or more points.
Continuing down this road of thought, the NY Jets have two very young, talented quarterbacks on their roster, Geno Smith, and Bryce Petty. Geno Smith is in the last year of his contract, and there is no better time than now to see what he can do with a few years of experience and a great supporting cast around him. Smith has never had multiple weapons to throw the ball to, and showed the ability to perform well on the field to close the 2014 season. He needs a chance, and needs a chance now. He will not get that chance with the New York Jets giving big money to Ryan Fitzpatrick (who will turn 34 during the fall of the 2016 season).
If Smith starts in 2016, and fails, it will be a good opportunity to get Bryce Petty some experience and see what he can do as well. Come the 2017 the NY Jets would be in a great position. They would have given Smith his last chance, and have seen what Bryce Petty can do. They also have a lot of money come the start of free agency in 2017.
Then there is the Mo Wilkerson situation. If the NY Jets are going to keep him, they may not be able to afford both Wilkerson and Fitzpatrick. According to OvertheCap.com, the Jets only have about 2.3 Million in cap space. They are going to be hard pressed to find common ground between the 14+ million Fitzpatrick wants, and the 7 million the Jets are offering him. Wilkerson may be the best player on the team, and is definitely the most “sure thing” at defensive end the team has due to Sheldon Richardson’s past legal troubles. Do not forget, the draft is also coming up. That is a great way to get talent via trades. In addition, you still have to sign those rookies.
The Jets are now stuck in this limbo of being between a rebuilding team and a win now team. It is time for the franchise to “pick a lane”. While 2016 was a great season, the easy schedule made fans believe we are so close, but in reality, the team needs to focus on the future instead of the now. It would be wise to let Fitzpatrick walk, and to give the young arms on the roster the chance they need. It is the only way to figure out what they have for the future.