It's been a while since we've broken out The Roundup, but I think FITZOMANIA is as good a time as any to break it out. In this post we will run down some of the recent events and best (and maybe worst?) thoughts on where the Jets and Fitzpatrick are on FA Day +3.
To make sure we are all up to date, here's where we are as of Friday.
After trading for Ryan Fitzpatrick for a hill of beans last offseason, the quarterback was the assumptive backup heading into training camp. Then, IK Enemkpali broke Geno Smith's jaw over the cost of an airplane ticket. Now the starter, Fitzpatrick kept it between the lines in the preseason and after an OK start to the season he received an endorsement from his coach even when Geno returned to full health. Then something strange happened, he injured his hand. The team cratered in the middle of the season before an incredible surge. Before we knew it, Fitzpatrick had just captained the best passing offense the Jets had seen in 20 years. Somewhere along the way he became an object of cult worship. Hell, he even did a Pretty Little Liars scene on Fallon with Prince Amukamura. But in the last game of the season, Fitzpatrick threw a bunch of interceptions to effectively sink the Jets postseason.
Days later, the Jets stated they definitively wanted him back as the starter. While both sides were supposedly working on a deal, a signing seemed imminent. A week before free agency began it was becoming clear that both sides were dug in. Then once the legal tampering period began the threats started. Both sides were far apart and Fitz was set to become a free agent. Then maybe the Rams were interested. Then the Broncos might be interested (they weren't), but hey, it could happen. Then the Jets were offering Fitzpatrick backup money. Then Fitzpatrick had written off returning to the Jets … just as soon as someone actually offered him a contract, a contract by the way which still hasn't seemed to materialize.
So now where do we stand?
Rich Cimini of ESPN explains that the numbers continue to be miles apart.
The problem, is that the Jets have done their assessment of the market and feel that's what Fitzpatrick would get elsewhere and until another team proves them wrong with a better offer (which Sexton will obviously take right back to the Jets) they have no reason to bid against themselves, a thought Cimini had confirmed by a league source.
In a freewheeling year of free agent spending where teams are making it rain for quarterbacks, Fitzpatrick's market seems dry by comparison.
But could a Colorado flash flood destroy the Jets?
NY Daily News' Gary Myers thinks the Jets are in trouble because all Denver GM John Elway needs to do is turn on the charm along with some of his $18 million in cap space.
This could happen, but it appears the Broncos are far more interested in finding out whether they can grab Colin Kaepernick first. Which makes more sense, especially when you consider that Elway just dealt with Fitzpatrick's agent Jimmy Sexton on the aborted Brock Osweiler negotiations, per Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News.
Thinking two steps ahead, Sexton knew that moving Osweiler to Houston would alleviate the issue of having Houston bid for Fitzpatrick. Houston would not get involved since they just traded him away last year, paying him a big free agent contract now would look like they were admitting a mistake when Bob McNair just told them to get a franchise QB or else.
So right now it might be between the Browns and Broncos for Kaep's squad. The Jets supposedly made inquiries into Kaepernick, but it seems like they were ruled out quickly by NFL's Michael Silver.
Matt Barrows of the SacBee backed Silver's report up and put the Jets motives into light.
So what now? As usual when it comes to contracts and long-range planning I go to the mountain … AKA Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com. Fitzgerald writes that the new CBA changes the dynamic from locking in payments to unproven rookies to locking in payments for veteran free agents who similarly might disappoint when you consider production against compensation.
Up until now, Houston GM Rick Smith's model was to build a team without a quarterback in mind. John Elway took the same philosophy in 2014 as he watched Peyton start to deteriorate. Similarly, Jason Fitzgerald argues that Jets GM Mike Maccagnan took Smith's philosophy to New York last year for theoretical, but also very pragmatic reasons.
It might be someone else for the Jets in 2016 or it might be Fitzpatrick again. Either way, GM Mike Maccagnan is building the team the best way he can and won't outbid himself for a player he's obviously not sure he wants to commit two or three season to.
Should a deal fall through with Fitzpatrick? I'm definitely going to worry about it. But I expect the Jets to do what they did last year; Maccagnan quickly started scouring the trade market for undervalued quarterbacks.
For as much as everyone makes it about the quarterback, there are undervalued players out there. Remember last season when the Bears couldn't trade Jay Cutler to save their life? I'm guessing some teams who had the cap room regret not taking action.
Last year Maccagnan went back to his old boss in Houston and found a backup who could start in a pinch and who ended up pairing well with a stout Jets defense, a solid backfield and a dynamic duo of receivers.
The Jets did it last year, all while "burning off" their first-round pick on a deep strength of the team and somehow the Jets were in the playoff hunt. Maybe the Jets can do that again with their quarterback in 2016, until that player feels he's being underpaid too …