AP source: Jets re-sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to 1-year deal
NEW YORK (AP) Fitz Magic has returned and - voila! - the New York Jets are heading into training camp with their starting quarterback under contract.
The Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick agreed to terms on a one-year deal Wednesday night, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The deal, worth $12 million guaranteed and could increase to $15 million in incentives, ends months of speculation and uncertainty at the team's most vital position.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced the signing. ESPN and NFL Network first reported terms of the deal.
Fitzpatrick set the franchise record with a career-high 31 touchdown passes last season while helping lead the Jets on a playoff push in Todd Bowles' first season as coach.
The well-traveled 33-year-old veteran appeared to be a certainty to re-sign in the weeks leading to the start of free agency, but Fitzpatrick and the Jets became locked in a contract stalemate over financial terms.
A deal appeared to be a better possibility two weeks ago, when New York signed defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year contract extension. That deal created about $5.7 million in salary cap space, giving the Jets some more room to work out a contract with Fitzpatrick.
With the Jets reporting to camp on Wednesday and their first practice scheduled for Thursday, both sides worked to hash out the long-expected deal.
Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan repeatedly said all offseason that they'd like to have Fitzpatrick back, with the coach saying the veteran would enter camp as the team's starter if he re-signed.
Several players, including wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, also expressed their desire to be reunited with Fitzpatrick.
In March, the Jets made an offer of three years for $24 million, including $12 million guaranteed in the first year, but there were some questions about the guaranteed money in the last two years.
While waiting for Fitzpatrick, the Jets also explored other options, including bringing in Robert Griffin III, who later signed with Cleveland, and Brian Hoyer, who signed with Chicago.
Maccagnan also told reporters the Jets had contingency plans in case Fitzpatrick didn't come back, and former starter Geno Smith and second-year quarterback Bryce Petty were believed to be among those options. New York also drafted former Penn State star Christian Hackenberg in the second round, but he is viewed more as a project for this season.
In the end, though, New York has the quarterback who nearly led them to the playoffs last season back under center.
Fitzpatrick was acquired by the Jets last offseason from Houston to serve as a backup to Smith. But after Smith's jaw was broken in training camp by then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali, Fitzpatrick stepped in and never relinquished the starting job - even playing through a torn thumb ligament.
He threw for a career-best 3,905 yards while topping Vinny Testaverde's franchise mark of 29 TDs.
A strong market for Fitzpatrick never developed as age, previous performance and the fact he has never reached the playoffs in 11 NFL seasons all likely played roles.
With the first postseason spot of his career on the line in the regular-season finale at Buffalo, Fitzpatrick struggled while throwing interceptions on each of New York's final three drives in a 22-17 loss. The Jets finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs, but Fitzpatrick established himself as a leader on and off the field in New York.
''This is obviously a place that I want to be,'' Fitzpatrick said after the season, ''a place that I'm comfortable with.''
Barring injury or an unforeseen situation, it appears Fitzpatrick will be under center against Cincinnati in Week 1 on Sept. 11.
Fitzpatrick thrived while being reunited with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, his coach in Buffalo for three seasons. He threw for at least 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns in each of those campaigns with the Bills, and showed he could be even better in his first year with New York.
That was despite going down with a torn ligament in his left thumb against Oakland on Nov. 1. Fitzpatrick played through the injury on his non-throwing hand for two games, had surgery the day after playing Buffalo on Nov. 12 and wore a brace on his thumb the rest of the season.
He helped the Jets finish 10th in overall offense, their first ranking that high since 1998. New York also set the team record with 5,896 total yards as Fitzpatrick established terrific chemistry with his top two receivers, Marshall and Decker.
Marshall, acquired in a trade from Chicago last offseason, set franchise records with 109 receptions and 1,502 yards receiving, and tied the team mark with 14 touchdown catches. Decker had 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 TDs.
Fitzpatrick has thrown for 23,178 yards with 154 touchdowns and 116 interceptions in 11 NFL seasons. A seventh-round draft pick by St. Louis out of Harvard in 2005, he has also played for Cincinnati (2007-08), Buffalo (2009-12), Tennessee (2013) and Houston (2014).
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