Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has a new contract guaranteeing him $24 million and establishing him as the franchise quarterback for years to come. And he can thank the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton for that.
If the Panthers hadn’t drafted Newton with the first overall pick, the Bills likely would have taken Newton third overall, and Fitzpatrick would likely be Newton’s backup right now, playing on his old contract with no job security. Bills coach Chan Gailey said as much today.
Asked on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning when Fitzpatrick became the Bills’ indisputable No. 1 quarterback, Gailey answered, “When we didn’t draft one.”
Gailey added that he had warned Fitzpatrick prior to the lockout that if the Bills got a chance to select the best quarterback in the draft, they’d do it, and that would mean Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be their quarterback of the future.
“That’s exactly what we told Ryan,” Gailey said. “If we thought there was a guy there that was the next ten-, twelve-, fifteen-year guy, we might go that direction. I just wanted him to be mentally prepared for that, so I was trying to be straight up with him.”
As it turned out, the Panthers took Newton first overall, the Bills didn’t think any of the other quarterbacks in the draft were the right guy to lead the franchise for a decade or more, and that’s why they committed to Fitzpatrick. Gailey said Fitzpatrick understands the business of football, and he knew that when Newton went to the Panthers and the Bills didn’t draft a quarterback, that meant Fitzpatrck was the main man in Buffalo.
“When we didn’t, he knew where we were going with this thing,” Gailey said.
Newton is having a brilliant rookie season in Carolina, and Fitzpatrick has the Bills in first place in the AFC East. Both teams can be happy with how it all worked out.