Buffalo Bills Release Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 23: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills throws the ball against the Miami Dolphins on December 23, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 24-10. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are in need of a starting quarterback, as the club has released 30-year-old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bills tweeted the news:

Fitzpatrick had four years left on his hefty contract, a six-year, $59 million extension he signed in 2011.

While "The Amish Rifle" was not a disaster, he is a limited quarterback physically who was not progressing with the Bills. Last season, he turned in a career-best quarterback rating of 83.3, but it was just slightly better than his previous two years in Buffalo. 

Fitzpatrick has limited arm strength, and he is at his best when working out of the pocket in a quick-hitting pass offense. Many felt former head coach Chan Gailey would help showcase his strengths, but that did not prove to be true. 

The eight-year pro has certainly shown flashes of brilliance. He can go on hot streaks where he dials in his accuracy and racks up stats in a hurry, but he can't sustain a high level of play. At this point in his career, it would be foolish to expect him to do anything differently. 

The simple fact of the matter is, Fitzpatrick is an average, at best, starting quarterback who was not earning his salary, and the Bills would never be able to take the next step with a quarterback like that on the roster. With a new regime in place, Buffalo evidently wanted a fresh start.

Likely helping facilitate this decision is the fact that the Bills own the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft. In that lofty position, they could have a chance to draft West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who will almost certainly be the first quarterback off the board. 

If Smith is gone, the Bills have plenty of reasons to believe they can grab the second-best quarterback, who is arguably USC's Matt Barkley. 

Look for the Bills to draft a quarterback in the first or second round and sign one more affordable than Fitzpatrick via free agency.