After an inconsistent stint with the Buffalo Bills, the team finally cut ties with starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday. With this move, the Harvard grad now begins the new league year by looking for a new team.
Where he ends up remains to be seen. The demand for quarterbacks this offseason is average, but no team is going to be giving out big starter money at this point. Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick rises near the top of available free-agent quarterbacks.
Over the last three seasons, Fitzpatrick posted a record of 15-27 and threw for 10,232 yards, 71 touchdowns and 54 interceptions. Those numbers aren't the worst, but a deeper look at his peaks and valleys reveals his inconsistency and up-and-down success in Buffalo.
Let's take a look at his 2011 season. Fitzpatrick started that year 5-2, and it looked as though he was the long-term answer at quarterback that Buffalo had been seeking. However, he would go on to lose eight of the nine remaining games that season and never recover, going 6-10 in 2012.
Thus, with his biggest supporter in former head coach Chan Gailey fired and the Doug Marrone era about to begin, the Bills really did not have much reason to keep Fitzpatrick around for such a high price.
Fortunately for him, there are teams out there looking for a backup QB that can step in and put up decent numbers the moment the starter gets hurt. Looking at the teams in need of backups now, it's clear which ones would be the best for Fitzpatrick.
With an offense featuring electrifying running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Texans are one of the league's up-and-coming squads. Quarterback Matt Schaub has proven to be quite reliable and will only take the team forward in the coming years.
But let's not forget that in 2011, Schaub suffered a Lisfranc injury and was deemed out for the season. Houston, 7-3 at the time, went on to go 3-3 the rest of the way and made the divisional round of the playoffs. That's not bad by any means, but the lack of a solid backup QB was obvious.
In Fitzpatrick, Houston would have a backup with plenty of starting experience that could come in at the drop of a hat and be more than just productive. The man has experience leading an offense and has shown that despite his flaws, he can be a decent leader.
A team can never have too much of that, so Houston should definitely give Fitzpatrick a call.
Christian Ponder showed marked improvement in his second NFL season, but the Vikings are not necessarily prepared in the event that he gets injured. Nothing against Joe Webb or McLeod Bethel-Thompson, but neither man has what it takes to come in and assume control in an emergency situation.
Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, does. His arm strength is not top-notch and though his passing game is anything but consistent, that wouldn't be much of an issue in Minnesota.
Thanks to the presence of reigning MVP Adrian Peterson, the Vikings could potentially rely on a solid running and short passing attack in the event of Ponder suffering an injury that would keep him out multiple weeks.
Bringing Fitzpatrick aboard wouldn't be the most conventional of signings, but it's definitely one that could pay off under certain circumstances.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers may be set with a fine and durable Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, but suppose that he did suffer a season-ending injury? It happened to Tom Brady and, like all players, Rodgers is not immune to getting hurt.
Were that to happen this season and the Packers roster was as it is now, the backup stepping in would be Graham Harrell. The man was fun to watch during his days at Texas Tech, but he's nowhere near what the Packers need to maintain pace in the NFC North.
Thus, GM Ted Thompson should give Fitzpatrick's agent a call and see if both sides can agree on a deal. Fitzpatrick would probably see almost no playing time in Green Bay, but it's a winning atmosphere where he can be a second leader in the locker room.
Moreover, should Rodgers get injured, the team would not be completely sunk.