Skip to main content

Re-signing Fitzpatrick a 'big sigh of relief' for Jets' GM

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mike Maccagnan allowed himself to celebrate for a moment once he knew that Ryan Fitzpatrick was coming back to the New York Jets.

The two sides ended a months-long contract stalemate by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $12 million deal Wednesday night. It became official when the quarterback signed all the paper work the next day, shortly before the Jets' first training camp practice kicked off.

''For a night, I felt a big sigh of relief,'' said Maccagnan, entering his second season as general manager. ''And then, it was back to work.''

While speaking to reporters Friday for the first time since the NFL draft, Maccagnan wouldn't disclose details of the negotiations between the Jets and Fitzpatrick. The GM also wouldn't address comments by Fitzpatrick, who was unhappy with the team's initial three-year offer that lacked guaranteed money beyond the first year.

''Hey, the deal is done,'' Maccagnan said. ''We're very happy with it. We're happy to have Fitz back. I just want to go forward with this whole thing and get the team ready to go and play.''

Getting to this point, though, rested in large part on the outcome of Fitzpatrick's contract situation. With that out of the way - finally - Maccagnan and the rest of the organization can focus again on just football.

However, there's one thing the GM might do differently if ever faced with a similar situation in the future.

''Probably, I think going forward, I'm going to get all these things resolved before I go on vacation,'' said a smiling Maccagnan, whose recent European trip was spent in part checking emails and texts.

Two weeks ago, Maccagnan took care of the other contract situation hanging over the organization when the Jets signed defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year extension worth $86 million.

It appeared Wilkerson would have to play this season under the franchise tag amount of $15.7 million as the deadline of July 15 to reach a long-term deal approached. Wilkerson would have possibly sat out of training camp and an already uncomfortable situation could have become testy.

Instead, the Jets and Wilkerson came to an agreement on a contract just minutes before the deadline.

''That was just one where it took us a while to get to that point,'' Maccagnan said.

He added that Wilkerson's big deal ''doesn't preclude us'' from being able to get a new contract done with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who is signed through next season but could demand huge bucks with a solid season.

The Jets are coming off a 10-6 season in which they fell a victory short of making the playoffs. They have what many regard as a tough schedule to open this season, with games against Cincinnati, Buffalo, Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Arizona.

Still, the focus remains the same for Maccagnan and the rest of the organization: make the playoffs.

''We're gunning for it,'' he said. ''That's our goal. Whether we achieve it or not, that's not the only benchmark we'll probably use to analyze how we're doing.''

He wants the Jets to be competitive and build off of last year's success. But if New York failed to make the postseason for the sixth straight season?

''I think we'd have to go back and look at, if we didn't make it, what was positive and what was something to build on going forward,'' Maccagnan said. ''I don't know if I would necessarily say playoffs or bust. I know everybody probably wants that quote. But we're just working one week at a time.''

He wouldn't look too far into the future as far as Geno Smith's status with the team, either, but gave every indication that the fourth-year quarterback would remain on the Jets' roster this season.

''I would assume so,'' Maccagnan said. ''He's had a very good offseason.''

Smith would have moved back into the starting role if Fitzpatrick hadn't been re-signed. He lost that job last summer when he had his jaw broken by a punch from a teammate in the locker room.

Smith now slides back to No. 2 on the depth chart, followed by second-year quarterback Bryce Petty and second-round draft pick Christian Hackenberg. That gives the Jets four quarterbacks, and most NFL teams don't carry more than three into a season.

Coach Todd Bowles acknowledged that having four QBs on the roster in Week 1 remains ''conceivable,'' and Maccagnan echoed that sentiment.

''It's something we've discussed and it's a possibility,'' Maccagnan said. ''In our minds, really at that position, in today's NFL, you want to take time to grow and develop your quarterbacks. We've discussed it internally, and if that's in the best interest of the team going forward, then we'll do it.''


AP NFL website: and AP NFL Twitter feed: