There are very few things that are certain in football. However, for the New York Jets there is one certainty, and that is the fact that they are a better football team with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center than anyone else on their roster.
The drama that has surrounded the Jets and Fitzpatrick has been the focal point of most of the offseason. The Jets are limited in salary cap space, and Fitzpatrick has seen quarterbacks with limited experience like Chase Daniel and Brock Osweiler get huge paydays while the Jets aren’t budging from their original offer to Fitzpatrick of between $7 and $8 million per year.
So far, Fitzpatrick hasn’t budged and there is no reason for him to despite the lack of open starting quarterback jobs. The Jets need Fitzpatrick as much as he needs them.
Fitzpatrick is coming off one of the best years from a Jets quarterback in the team’s history. He holds the single-season record for touchdowns with 31 and had the second-most yards in Jets history with 3,905. Those are numbers no other quarterback on the Jets roster can hope to reproduce next season.
The Jets’ other options at quarterback are Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and the recently drafted Christian Hackenberg. Smith is what he is at this point, a second-round bust who shouldn’t be trusted to run an NFL offense. He just hasn’t progressed at all on the field and doesn’t have respect in the locker room. Notice how nobody on the Jets is talking up Smith, who technically is the starting quarterback if the season were to start today.
They need Fitzpatrick. With him they are a playoff contender. Without him they are anything but. Smith, even with Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte around him, isn’t someone you want to trust with the game on the line. Hackenberg is a wild card and might never be more than what he was in college, an inaccurate passer with all the tools checked off. As for Petty, who knows what he will be. None of the other three quarterbacks on the Jets’ roster are trustworthy.
There is no question, given the age on the roster, that the Jets are built to contend now. They are carrying a lot of veterans whose window isn’t very large. How long will Darrelle Revis play at this level now that he is 30? Marshall and Decker are 32 and 29, respectively, and Forte is 30.
There is no waiting to contend. The Jets must contend now before their window slams shut, and Fitzpatrick is the best quarterback option for them. Without Fitzpatrick they are a team that will remain on the outside looking in. The Jets need to budge and sign Fitzpatrick before they sabotage their 2016 season.