Connor Hughes wrote an article at the end of last week blaming the Jets for Ryan Fitzpatrick contract demands. I disagree with the argument.
"If he returns," Bowles interjected, "He’ll be the starting quarterback."
And those eight words are exactly why the Jets are where they are now.
Everyone else, everyone, is making a minimum of $10 million a year. There are, no joke, 17 quarterbacks (more than half) slated to be making at least $15 million next season, according to OTC.
They’re all starters. Fitzpatrick, per the Jets own words, is the team’s unquestioned starter. By default, that makes him "worth" that much. That makes him able to ask for what he is.
If the Jets goal all along was to offer Fitzpatrick less than a starting quarterback’s salary ($8-$9 million a year), then the team shouldn’t have paraded around Florham Park telling anyone with two working ears (heck, one woulda done) he was their starting quarterback.
I think Connor Hughes does a really good job covering the Jets so don't think this is some sort of personal attack on him. I just don't agree with this particular argument.
Whether or not the Jets said explicitly Fitzpatrick was the starter, it is difficult to imagine that Fitzpatrick would be asking for less. That is because he gave a quality performance in 2015. Those 17 quarterbacks making over $15 million are not even all of the quality quarterbacks in the league because you have guys like Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, and Marcus Mariota on rookie deals. That is the going rate for a decent quarterback off his rookie deal. Todd Bowles' word didn't make it that way. The rest of the league did. That was going to be true no matter what the Jets said. Fitzpatrick's agent probably didn't realize this was the going rate only after the Jets said he would be the starter.
If anything, not guaranteeing Fitzpatrick the job if he returned would make the Jets' offer less attractive. If you are Fitzpatrick, would you prefer a team that will make you the starter or a team where you have to compete for the starting job. It was unclear many if any other teams would offer Fitzpatrick the chance to be the Week 1 starter. It is something that make the Jets more attractive, not less attractive. What is a better offer for Fitzpatrick? Is it around $7-8 million per year and knowing he's the starter or around $7-8 million per year and having to win the starting job? Why would Fitzpatrick be more likely to return to a team that won't even guarantee him the starting job after a good year? He might be less likely.
The Jets are not to blame for this standoff with their words. The market is to blame. Fitzpatrick thinks he is worth a certain figure. The Jets think he is worth less. At some point, somebody is going to move, another team will enter the picture, or some combination of these things will happen. We have to see how this finishes. I wouldn't blame anybody for anything until we have an outcome.