Because the topic of a new quarterback for the Bills has been discussed so much it feels like it has already happened, the old quarterback wasn’t in much of a talkative mood this week.
Asked by Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News if he thought Sunday was his last chance to start an NFL game, Fitzpatrick answered succinctly.
“No,” he replied.
He might not want to talk about it, but change is clearly coming. Head coach Chan Gailey is widely believed to be on his way out. General manager Buddy Nix (who may or may not be around to preside over it) has said repeatedly he wants to find a franchise quarterback in the draft, and “the time is now” to make a move for one.
That probably makes it time to move on from Fitzpatrick, who is due a $3 million bonus in March. He has already pocketed $21 million of the six-year, $62 million extension he signed just over a year ago.
While those are big numbers, they’re fairly in line with where he falls among NFL quarterbacks. His $9.8 million average is 19th in the league, and he’s 19th in the league in passer rating at the moment.
But the Bills are desperate to make a splash, and investing further in a quarterback who is 18-31 as their starter makes for a hard sell.
“Definitely, that’s my friend, before my quarterback,” wide receiver Stevie Johnson said. “So the sympathy thing is there because there’s a lot on that position. That’s around the league. You win and you’re The Man. You lose and everybody’s looking at you like it’s your fault.
“I can sympathize with him but I can sympathize with every other quarterback in the league also. It’s just the nature of the business.”
And with the Bills set to clear almost $500,000 under the cap by releasing Fitzpatrick, that’s a business decision that nearly everyone sees coming.