We noted early this month that the Bills and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick were working on a new contract. Those contract talks appear to be making sufficient progress that a new deal could be announced next week.
Multiple reports surfaced Thursday night that a deal is geting close and could get finished when the Bills, who have closed their offices for this bye weekend, return to work next week. NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that Fitzpatrick’s deal is expected to average about $10 million per season, but the guaranteed money hasn’t been determined. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the deal would average between $9 million and $12 million.
In other words, Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be making “first-tier” money like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who average $18 million a year on their new deals. But Fitzpatrick would be near the top of the “second-tier” quarterback contracts, making at least as much as Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who signed a six-year, $63 million contract.
If a deal doesn’t get done, the Bills would slap the franchise tag on Fitzpatrick next year, which would mean giving him an enormous one-year contract for 2012. The Bills are in good cap shape for 2011 and would much rather get a long-term deal done with Fitzpatrick now so they can apply a large chunk of his contract to this year’s cap. Fitzpatrick has a base salary of $3.1 million in this, the last season of his three-year, $6.9 million contract.
If the Bills are able to finish the deal with Fitzpatrick soon, they’ll turn their attention to wide receiver Stevie Johnson and running back Fred Jackson. All of a sudden the Bills are finding that they’ve got a lot of talented playmakers on offense looking for new contracts. That’s a good problem to have.