The Ryan Fitzpatrick drama has gone on far too long, but according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport the Jets may have finally set a deadline for the Harvard graduate to return or they'll simply ride out the season with Geno Smith.
"Though it's clear both sides would like Fitzpatrick to be in a Jets uniform when 2016 begins there's no firm word on whether that will be the case," Rapoport said. "But word may be coming, next Tuesday the Jets begin OTAs and from what I'm being told, that is the first legitimate deadline for when both sides would like a deal to be done if Fitzpatrick is going to remain starting quarterback of the Jets."
Of course Rapoport's report was awfully vague and his use on the words, "first deadline" implies that maybe this isn't actually much of a deadline. Sure, both sides would like a deal in place by the start of OTAs but both sides would have also liked for the deal to have been made months ago. What this really sounds like is Fitzpatrick realizing if he doesn't decide to come back soon the team will eventually move on without him. Does he really want to risk Smith looking great in OTAs and convincing coaches, management and even the players that maybe they don't really need Fitzpatrick?
"Meanwhile veterans such as Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, they just want their quarterback back.," Rapoport said. "While the Jets have held firm on their initial offer, Fitzpatrick wants to get a little more money out of the organization where he saw so much success last year."
Marshall and Decker have been extremely vocal about their desire to have Fitzpatrick back next season, but even Decker seems to be thinking about possibly moving on with out Fitzpatrick at some point soon.
"All I can say is we have to move on without him, right now," Decker said on SiriusXM Radio. "Because they are stuck where they are with the business decision, where they want to go with the money, who's going to break. But again we have a job to do and that's be the best football team, field the best football team, of who we have in the locker room right now."
While Decker is starting to face the possibility that Fitzpatrick might not return, it's clear that he is not giving up hope. As he sees it, this is a team built to win now, with older veterans on offense and Fitzpatrick gives the Jets their best chance to win in 2016.
"I have a lot of respect for Ryan Fitzpatrick. I know he's been with a lot of teams over his career, but we found a formula last year that worked for us," Decker said. "I think Brandon's older, I'm getting older, we've got Matt (Forte) now, he's getting older. We have the pieces right now to win."
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)