The Bills took care of one star’s miniscule contract. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been signed to a six-year $59 million extension by the team.
Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson have been the two driving forces in the Bills success this despite being criminally underpaid. Well, maybe not criminally, they do make millions of dollars playing a game.
Still, Fitzpatrick’s play in relief of Trent Edwards was a relief last season and he has continued to progress as an effective quarterback this year. His play has been so eye-opening that fans have gone from rallying a “Suck for Luck” campaign to talking playoff possibilities.
A six-year deal is fairly hefty for a former seventh-round pick from Harvard. He has certainly earned the money, I just wonder if the length of the contract is ideal for the development of the Bills. I was expecting a four or five-year deal that would allow the Bills to draft and cultivate a franchise QB, very much in the way Aaron Rodgers was groomed in Green Bay. Now, the Bills can always walk away from the deal or release Fitzpatrick and only be on the hook for the $24 million he is guaranteed. But for a team which thinks bottom line before finish line, that doesn’t seem like a very real option.
Assuming Fitzpatrick remains a Bill through the entire term of the contract, you can expect to see a franchise quarterback drafted two or three years down the line. There won’t be much need to bring a youngster in just yet.
While some fans who have been clamoring for a true franchise QB will complain about Fitzpatrick’s ability to throw a good deep ball, they should be happy to know that Fitzpatrick is more than capable of carrying the banner until a true franchise QB is brought in. Think of it this way; with no need to draft a QB in the first or second round for the next three years, the Bills can continue to shore up their other weaknesses.
Perhaps the opportunity to build for the future is the silver lining in this deal. There is no doubting that Fitzpatrick is the man the Bills want as their QB, however he is not the prototype many football fans would draw up to lead their team. By signing him to a significant deal, the Bills have ensured they can focus on the numerous holes on defense and other positions of need in the draft and free agency.
Fitzmagic will certainly have plenty of extra focus on him thanks to the new deal, he will have higher standard to live up to because of it. He should have little trouble doing so based on his past performances.