On one hand, the Jets were wrong to leak incomplete, self-serving details regarding the team’s pending offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. On the other hand, Fitzpatrick is wrong to grandstand regarding the team’s unwillingness to pay him more than $12 million in 2016 as part of a three-year, $24 million deal.
Now that the situation has melted into a full-blown back and forth, the next move for the Jets should be to do nothing.
If Fitzpatrick is indeed willing to take less than what the Jets are offering with another team, the Jets should sit back and let him do it. Because he won’t. Possibly since there’s no one else who would offer him anything of significance in late May.
Consider the options. Take $8 million per year and play or take less and not play. Fitzpatrick’s Harvard education isn’t needed to resolve that one.
But ego is getting in the way of wisdom on this one, with both sides bearing the blame. While the Jets haven’t put enough on the table to get Fitzpatrick to sign, they’ve accurately read the market for his services because no one else has even come close.
And for good reason. It’s one thing to throw a ball from Point A to Point B accurately. It’s another thing to be the kind of player who becomes the face of the franchise, selling tickets and jerseys and emptying out the inventory of unsold PSLs. Right or wrong, Fitzpatrick isn’t regarded throughout the league as that kind of quarterback.
A journeyman who has played for four teams in five years, Fitzpatrick wants more than what the market will bear for him. Forget where the broader quarterback market is or should be. The Jets are north of what anyone else is willing to pay Fitzpatrick. At some point, he needs to decide whether to play or not to play for what the Jets are offering.
Rather than making noise about going elsewhere (as if even there’s an elsewhere where he can go at this point), Fitzpatrick’s better play is to say, “I’m not playing until the offer is acceptable.” He then can wait for someone to break Geno Smith’s jaw and/or a starter with another team to get injured, hopeful that the other team will opt to sign Fitzpatrick over going next-man-up with a man under contract.
It’s unfortunate that the situation is turning ugly. But ugly was inevitable after the two sides dug in their heels and refused to budge.