Last week reports leaked that the Jets were willing to give Fitzpatrick a three-year deal that would pay him $12 million in the first season and although the terms of the final two-years weren't mentioned it was obvious that was because there was a sharp decrease in pay over those years that Fitzpatrick wasn't happy with.
So you might be thinking, like Fitzpatrick, that a one-year deal for $12 million would be a good compromise. But the problem with that is it would make it much harder for the Jets to stagger Fitzpatrick's 2016 cap hit and since they only have around $3 million in available cap space they aren't interested in doing enough creative accounting to free up enough to give Fitzpatrick $12 million. The other problem, that you won't hear mentioned but is fairly obvious, is the Jets simply don't think Fitzpatrick is worth $12 million a year, even if it's only for one year.
The timing of Fitzpatrick deciding he would accept the one-year deal is interesting. Of course it could simply be he is willing to bet on himself, Chan Gailey, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Matt Forte being good enough to replicate last year's numbers and then convince someone to pay him in 2017. But with Geno Smith looking sharp and drawing praise from teammates and coaches about his growth and maturity it feels like only a matter of time before the consensus is why pay Fitzpatrick all that money when Smith might actually be a better quarterback.
Smith is being more vocal, seems to have a better understanding of the type of leader a quarterback needs to be and it's not just offensive players expressing their belief in Smith but defensive players are starting to see a difference as well. During yesterday's practice Dee Milliner had perfect coverage on Marshall, who ran a 15-yard out at the sidelines and Smith threw a perfectly placed pass where only Marshall could get it as he was able to do a two-foot top tap to make the completion. Marshall instantly started barking and celebrating, all in good nature of course, when Marcus Gilchrist yelled out "you can thank your QB for that."
Of course the Jets would still prefer to have Fitzpatrick because without him they would have no adequate backup to Smith, but if Smith keeps turning in strong performances in camp everyone might start looking around, wondering why they are worrying about how much to pay Fitzpatrick.
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)