The Buffalo Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick today came to an agreement, as the team signed their quarterback to a six-year contract extension. The deal is reportedly going to include $24 million guaranteed, and will be worth $59 million overall, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
Fitzpatrick will earn $11 million in each of the first three years of the deal. After that, the salary starts to come down. He will average $9.987 million for the six-year duration of the contract. The Bills had set a goal of having the negotiations completed by the time the Bills played in Toronto, which is this Sunday. The team can now use the final 10 weeks of the season to turn their attention to negotiating contracts with Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson.
This is quite a raise for Fitzpatrick, who was earning a salary of $3.195 million this year. The 2011 season was the final year of Fitzpatrick's original contract with the Bills, but it was also the first year that he came in as the unquestioned starter of the team.
Under head coach Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick has really taken to the offense and is smart enough to know how to make it work. Fitzpatrick is ranked in the Top 10 of all NFL quarterbacks this season. Under his direction, the Bills are the No. 1 offense in the red zone in 2011. They also are the third-ranked scoring offense in the league.
Fitzpatrick's reps were able to use his hot start and how much the Bills fanbase are behind him to negotiate the big deal. If the Bills hadn't been able to work out a deal with Fitzpatrick, the fanbase would have been up in arms.
This contract now puts pressure on Fitzpatrick to bring the Bills to the playoffs, which is somewhere they haven't been for the past 11 years. With a 4-2 record, they are well-positioned for now. However, there are still 10 games left in the season.
With Fitzpatrick under contract—along with Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith, who were also signed in 2011—the Bills now have three quarterbacks signed to long-term deals. That means the Bills will be free to focus their attention on the offensive line and on improving the league-worst pass rush at the 2012 NFL draft.