Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2011 performance downturn seemed to begin immediately after the team signed him to a surprise in-season extension worth $59 million. Fitzpatrick’s team went 1-8 down the stretch, and he threw only 10 touchdown passes compared to 16 interceptions in Buffalo’s final nine contests.
Bills receiver David Nelson, however, believes that Fitzpatrick’s sudden, sharp decline had more to do with an injury the team never revealed.
“A lot of people don’t know, but Fitz, during the Washington game, actually cracked a couple of ribs,” Nelson said. “So after that, he was playing hurt.”
Fitzpatrick did show up on the injury report the following week, listed with a “chest” injury. He was “limited” in practice that week, and started the next game against the Jets.
We might believe Fitzpatrick’s second-half swoon was attributable to injury if he hadn’t started hot, then crashed down the stretch the season before. But that’s exactly what happened to Fitzpatrick in 2010, as well.
As Mike Florio reported in late November, the Bills do have the option of getting out of Fitzpatrick’s contract. They can trade or cut him before the seventh day of the new league year (March 19) by declining to pay his scheduled $5 million option bonus.