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Rex Ryan Says He Hopes Ryan Fitzpatrick Leaves Jets in Free Agency

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills reacts during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 23, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 27, 2016

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan hopes the AFC East team he used to lead, the New York Jets, doesn't retain the starting quarterback who led it to 10 wins last season.

ESPN.com's Rich Cimini reported Sunday what Ryan had to say at the owners' meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, last week regarding free-agent signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick:

I hope he goes somewhere else, I do. He's tougher than hell. What's lost in it is, he might have played poorly against us -- it might have been a bad day (in Week 17) -- but I think they won five straight with him and he was lighting it up, probably the most yards in the history of that franchise. We'll see. Like I said, I hope they lose him.

Fitzpatrick's future is still up in the air as he and the Jets struggle to find common ground in contract negotiations.    

The 33-year-old veteran had a career year in 2015, throwing for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns with an 88.0 passer rating. It's a rather thin QB market, a situation Fitzpatrick has used as leverage in contract talks.

Ryan never got that kind of play under center during his tenure in the Big Apple, which is part of the reason he was ousted from his job following the 2014 campaign.

Despite the drastic change in leadership, the Jets promptly moved forward under a new defensive-minded coach in Todd Bowles, rallying around him and Fitzpatrick to get into playoff contention. Although the Bills had a disappointing maiden year under Ryan, they did knock off the Jets, 22-17, in Week 17 to prevent them from a playoff berth as Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions.

Earlier this month, though, star New York receiver Brandon Marshall gave Fitzpatrick a strong public endorsement.

"The way we communicate, the way we practice together, the way we bring other guys together, I've never seen that anywhere else—and I've been a lot of places and I've had a lot of quarterbacks,” said Marshall on The Rich Eisen Show, via Cimini.

Considering the state of the Jets' all-important position beyond Fitzpatrick, it's no wonder Marshall was so vocal in his support.

Former Baylor star QB Bryce Petty still probably needs another year of development to be ready for the NFL gridiron, while Geno Smith hasn't shown a lot of promise as a potential franchise passer.

Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey runs a system Fitzpatrick is familiar with. The fact that Marshall and Eric Decker are in the fold as two friendly targets on the outside makes New York the ideal destination for Fitzpatrick, who'd be hard-pressed to find similar success elsewhere.

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