With the start of training camp just two weeks away, the New York Jets continue to find themselves in an unenviable position at quarterback.
As of right now, the team would be forced to throw Geno Smith out there under center to start the 2016 season. Coming off a 10-win performance a season ago, this is a less-than-ideal scenario for an otherwise stacked team.
The issue at hand here is a contract stalemate between the Jets and free-agent signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick. You’ve likely read the reports and rumors throughout the past several months.
Coming off a career-best performance in 2015, Fitzpatrick has balked at every offer the Jets have thrown his way. Meanwhile, the ugly nature of these specific contract negotiations continue to cause a rift.
It now appears that the two sides are not progressing as it relates to coming to an agreement on a new deal.
“As for Fitzpatrick, there has been no movement toward getting a deal done, and time may be running out,” Brian Costello of the NY Post recently reported. “Since the size of the gap between the two sides in this negotiation became apparent in March, training camp has felt like a deadline to get a deal done.”
If training camp is indeed the deadline, time is definitely running out here. As Costello indicated, the gap between what Fitzpatrick wants and the Jets are offering remains significant.
The team’s most-recent offer is a three-year deal that includes $12 million for the 2016 season. Though, that offer only includes guarantees in the first season, practically making it a one-year, $12 million offer.
For his part, Fitzpatrick seems to think he deserves $16 million annually with more than one year of guarantees.
In terms of a deadline, Jets head coach Todd Bowles has made it perfectly clear when Fitzpatrick needs to sign his deal by in order to be considered for the starting job.
“There comes a point if you get to Week 4 in training camp and he’s not here, you know who your starter is going to be Week 1,” the head coach said in June. “It’s to the extreme, but there is a ticking clock. You have time until you don’t have time.”
For Fitzpatrick, there simply isn’t much leverage here. Every other team has moved on with their current quarterback situations intact. Barring some sort of injury during training camp, he simply doesn’t have many options outside of the Jets. Even then, none of the other 31 teams are going to pay him what the Jets are currently offering.
A bottom-rung starting quarterback option throughout his career, the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick posted career-best numbers across the board in 2015. He threw for 3,905 yards with 31 touchdowns en route to leading the Jets to a surprising 10-win season.
While Fitzpatrick himself might not have much leverage, it seems unrealistic to believe the Jets will be able to repeat last season’s performance with Smith under center, let alone contend for a playoff spot. That’s where things get interesting from a team perspective.