Ryan Fitzpatrick Decision Points

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Updated: March 7, 2013
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H-Hour is approaching fast for the Buffalo Bills and their former franchise quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Will his contract restructured? Will he be released? Will nothing happen? IT IS A MYSTERY!

You probably know the basics, but here’s a quick refresher. In 2011, backup tern’t starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was playing very well on the heels of a 5-1 start, and was in the last year of a 3 year, 8.1 million dollar contract. At that point, the Bills thought they may have had a long term solution at the position and didn’t want to see him hit the open market, and made Fitz the Fitzfranchise with his current deal.

One thing to note is that while the contract is not a good one to have on the books, it isn’t quite as bad as it looks either. Depending on how you look at the deal, it ranks anywhere from 14th to 19th in the league for highest quarterback number. Considering Fitz is probably somewhere between the 18th and 25th best quarterback in the league, things could be worse.

So where are we now? Cutting Ryan Fitzpatrick before the new league starts saves the team a marginal amount against the cap, but 3 million dollars in cash. So there are a couple of ways this could play out.

-The Bills and Fitz restructure. The Bills will/have attempt this in any scenario in order to save both real and cap money. Why would Fitzpatrick agree to take less money? Because he’s received most of the guaranteed portion of his deal, and it’s probably best for him from a football perspective to stay in Buffalo. The Bills, on the other hand would like to keep him around as a backup (I refuse to acknowledge a situation where Fitz wins a competition in camp), just not at the current price.

-The parties can’t come to agreement, and Fitz is cut. The Bills will have to swallow the 10 mil cap hit, but save 3 million dollars cash. There seems to be a growing sense that this is the scenario that will happen if they can’t come to an agreement on restructuring. If this happens, I’ll move to the 95% confidence interval that the Bills will be drafting a QB.

-Finally, the Bills could decide it’s best to pay the roster bonus (3 mil) and keep Fitz. As disillusioned as we all are with the Harvard grad, he’s still better than most of the dreck that populates the free agent QB class this year. Seriously, go look.  Tarvaris Jackson was 3rd on the list, and you’re picking up Matt Moore in your team’s Leerjet if you need a QB this year. So the Bills may decide that rookie or no, it’s better to just pay the 3 mil because, despite his shortcomings, Fitz can still win you games if the rest of the team is playing well enough; our roster is the best its been in years.

That last point loses some of its punch, however, when you consider Fitz starting again would put us more or less in the same boat as last year. In any of the above 3 scenarios, I’d say the smart money is on the Bills drafting and starting a rookie. At least, that’s what I hope will happen.