Fitzpatrick surprising choice at QB

The Bills found a new backup for Trent Edwards. But did they sign the right guy? After extensive playing time in Cincinnati last season, Fitzpatrick earned a deal with Buffalo...

With the page being turned on former first-round draft pick J.P. Losman, the Buffalo Bills were in the market for a proven backup quarterback.

The team needed not just someone older to mentor a young Trent Edwards, who regressed the last half of last season, but also someone capable of stepping in and winning games in emergency situations given Edwards' history of injuries.

When fans and media drew up their short lists, names like Jeff Garcia, Byron Leftwich, Jon Kitna and Jeff Garcia were on them.

Ryan Fitzpatrick's was not.

In one of the more bizarre free agent signings in club history, Fitzpatrick is now a member of the Bills, leaving everyone asking why and wanting more.

In terms of experience and chronological age, the former Ram and Bengal hardly fits the bill as someone capable of filling a mentoring role. Fitzpatrick, 26, has started five fewer games than Edwards and he's less than one year older.

As far as viewing him as an upgrade over Losman, critics are snickering over GM Russ Brandon's assessment of Fitzpatrick: "Over the course of Ryan's career, he has been a very productive player and certainly brings many positives to our organization."


Compared to Losman, Fitzpatrick has started 18 fewer games, attempted 434 fewer passes, thrown for 3,529 fewer yards and 21 fewer touchdowns, and won seven fewer games.

On the plus side, Fitzpatrick is a nice NFL story, entering the league as a seventh-round draft choice of St. Louis in 2005 out of Harvard. But being with his third team in five years doesn't inspire confidence. And is he really the kind of insurance policy a serious team seeks out?

Edwards has missed six starts the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries. He still has yet to establish himself as Buffalo's unqualified starter.

Those factors no doubt persuaded Fitzpatrick to sign with the Bills rather than continue as Carson's Palmer's backup in Cincinnati. In Buffalo, his chances are better of seeing the field and really earning some of that three-year deal paying him an average of $2.3 million a year.

"I think it's helped me a lot in my career to play behind Marc Bulger (in St. Louis) and Carson Palmer," Fitzpatrick told the Bills website. "I've been able to see how they approach the game, and in doing that I've been able to help them out. I think that's what I'm going to bring here.

"Trent is still a young guy and I'm going to help him out with his preparation. I'm going to be his eyes when he's on the field and I'm looking forward to that relationship."

Last season, Fitzpatrick earned his most extensive playing time, starting 13 games for the Bengals in place of an injured Palmer. He led the club to a 4-3-1 record the second half of the season and posted career-highs for completions (221), yards (1,905) and TDs (8).

However, he didn't top 200 yards passing in 10 games. His career record as a starter is 4-10-1.

If people were looking for a sign the Bills are serious about snapping their nine-year playoff drought, they didn't get it with Fitzpatrick's signing.

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