Florham Park N.J. - It was all out of a Hollywood script. With Ryan Fitzpatrick circling the training facility in his truck just minutes before the 7 p.m. deadline, a deal was struck bringing the journeyman quarterback to New York for one more season. This deal worked for both sides. In more ways than one, the contract resonates with the rest of the team and offers stability under center.
There is no more cloud of uncertainty hanging over Florham Park. There are no more distractions. Now, the team can focus on constructing a cohesive group that can build off of last year's success.
These Jets love Fitzpatrick. Some were worried a contract would not be signed while others never blinked an eye. But, the signing of Fitzpatrick for another season in the Meadowlands means the chemistry built with last season's 10-win group only grows stronger this year. While Fitzpatrick is no Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, his presence looms large for a team with an already "great culture," as Brandon Marshall said on Thursday.
"It was the same feeling I got when we got [Muhammad Wilkerson's] contract done," said Marshall. "Management has done a good job and put together a great group of guys. Fitz is a leader and puts us in position to win."
New York now has the final piece to their puzzle. From this point, the Jets are focused on the work that lies ahead. Training camp is their chance to shake off the rust, expand last season's brotherhood, and take the next step to the postseason. With Fitzpatrick back in the fold, his energy and personality will ease that process along.
"Fitz is a good guy, the entire team likes him," said cornerback Buster Skrine. "Everybody is happy he's back."
The team's admiration of Fitzpatrick is not a knock on Geno Smith or his abilities. But, with the success Fitzpatrick had in 2015 with Marshall and Eric Decker alongside him, there is no question the team should continue to trend upward. His 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns earned the locker room's trust.
"It's good to have him back. We're all happy, but at the same time, we need to stay level and get our work done," said tight end Jace Amaro.
Amaro enters this season looking to rebound from an injury-plagued 2015 that saw him sidelined for all 16 games. He was not able to truly establish a connection with Fitzpatrick, but believes it will all transition over the course of training camp and through the regular season.
"It's exciting," Amaro said about working with Fitzpatrick and the offense. "It will be fun to get along with the guys again. We are way further ahead now than last year at this time."
The team is ready to put last season behind them but use the Week 17 loss to the Buffalo Bills as motivation. Someone who has extra motivation now with Fitzpatrick under contract is Geno Smith. He has grown into a mature athlete and has done nothing but impress in OTAs and on the first day of training camp. His throws had extra zip with precision. Now with Fitzpatrick declared the starter by head coach Todd Bowles, Smith's status remains up in the air.
"I'm not pissed off at anyone," Smith clarified about Fitzpatrick's return. "But, I'm pissed because as a competitor and a quarterback, you always want to be out there."
There is no drama between Smith and Fitzpatrick. They are always in the same meeting rooms and consistently talk about how both men can improve their games. It is in Fitzpatrick's nature to teach Smith and the rest of the young members of this team how to act like professionals and remain committed to the game plan. His leadership skills and veteran presence are just two of the reasons why the Jets brought him back.
"Obviously, it is tough for Geno, but he has showed a lot of maturity," said Fitzpatrick. "You just have to put your head down and move forward all the way."
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)null