Jets GM Mike Maccagnan is slow playing the hell out of his hand and he can do so because Ryan Fitzpatrick and his agent already overplayed theirs. Yes, Fitzpatrick had the best statistical season of any Jets quarterback ever last year but at 33-years-old can anyone really expect the journeyman quarterback to repeat the best performance of his career?
Fitzpatrick wants to get paid like Sam Bradford and Brock Osweiler just did and on one hand you can't really blame him because he is better at quarterbacking than either of those two are but on the other hand you certainly can't blame the Jets for not wanting to pay him. Bradford and Osweiler are younger and their teams still hope they can turn into franchise quarterbacks but more importantly Maccagnan is thinking just because those teams made a mistake and overpaid average quarterbacks doesn't mean he has to.
So, Maccagnan made his offer - an offer of around $7-8 million per year, similar to what Chase Daniel got to be a backup with the Eagles - and held firm as he called Fitzpatrick's bluff. He let Fitzpatrick go test the open market and the open market took a hard pass. The Rams and the Browns aren't interested in making a serious "investment" and they are the Rams and the Browns. The Broncos showed some interest but have their sights set on Colin Kaepernick and even as they express some interest in Fitzpatrick they don't want to meet his contract demands either. You can't blame Fitzpatrick for trying to squeeze the most out of what will likely be his last chance at a big payday but the demand for an average 33-year-old journeyman quarterback with no playoff experience just doesn't exist.
Which leaves Fitzpatrick with one choice, come crawling back to the Jets and accept whatever they are still willing to offer. The Jets have other options, they might not be particularly good options but they have options, Fitzpatrick it appears does not. Not if he wants to start and while the Jets offer isn't as much as Fitzpatrick was hoping for it's still likely more than anyone else will give him. So, stop with the nonsense and accept reality or risk not having a place to play football next year. The Jets have remained patient but are already flirting with backup plans, namely Robert Griffin III. It's obvious to everyone that the Jets would prefer to have Fitzpatrick next year but at a certain point the Jets will simply move on.
In a way Fitzpatrick is holding this team hostage, the Jets don't have a lot of salary cap to work with and they won't know exactly how much they have until they know if they have to pay Fitzpatrick or someone like Griffin. It is of course interesting that no one seems to be complaining about Fitzpatrick being greedy or not being a team player when other players, much better players, don't get to do the same thing without criticism but you can do the math on that on your own. But to be clear Fitzpatrick did nothing wrong in trying to bluff his way to a better contract, it's just painfully obvious to everyone he already lost. It's time to admit defeat and accept what is still out there before that offer gets pulled. Maccagnan shouldn't blink, he won the stare-down. At most Maccagnan could offer to bump up the incentives but as for the base he should tell Fitzpatrick he's lucky the offer isn't being lowered at this point.
The Jets need Fitzpatrick but then again they don't really. Chan Gailey has coaxed solid seasons out of Fitzpatrick, Kordell Stewart and Tyler Thigpen, he can do it with Griffin or Geno Smith. The better way to put it is the Jets are better off with Fitzpatrick than without him but without him they will find another quarterback and they will still play football and their fans will still pay for tickets (no matter how many times they threaten they won't). Without the Jets Fitzpatrick might not ever start a meaningful game of football again, which is exactly why Fitzpatrick needs to come back and bend the knee to Maccagnan, Lord of the Negotiation Stare-down.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (email@example.com)