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Ryan Fitzpatrick Calls '16 with Jets 'Most Difficult Year,' Wants to Play in '17

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2017

FILE - in this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick walks off the field after the team's NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in East Rutherford, N.J. Fitzpatrick's contract with the Jets has voided, as expected, making the veteran quarterback a free agent. Fitzpatrick re-signed with the Jets last July on a one-year, $12 million deal. Technically, the contract was for two years, but contained language in which the second year would be automatically voided five days after the Super Bowl--meaning, Friday--if Fitzpatrick remained on the roster. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wants to play in 2017 but acknowledges that his 2016 campaign in New York was the "hardest year I've had." 

Fitzpatrick told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News:

Last year was the hardest year I’ve had. Last year was the most difficult year for me. Not physically, just kind of mentally and emotionally. I had to take a step back and think about it. Is this something I still want to do? Football is something so ingrained in me, something I love doing and definitely something I want to do. I still want to compete and I still think I can contribute whether I am in a starting role or whatever capacity.

Fitzpatrick, 34, threw for 2,710 yards and 12 touchdowns against an NFL-high 17 interceptions last season. He was benched at multiple points in the season but was brought back into the fold because of injuries across the Jets' quarterback depth chart. It was a far cry from Fitzpatrick's 2015 season, which saw him set a career high with 31 touchdown passes.

A free agent after playing out a pair of one-year deals in New York, Fitzpatrick says he has not received an offer since free agency began in March. He says he's waiting until next week's draft to get a better idea of where he might land. 

“I’m working out, excited for my next opportunity,” Fitzpatrick said. “Once the draft happens, the picture will become much clearer.”

Fitzpatrick isn't looking for a guarantee at a chance to start, so he should be able to find a home eventually. Backup quarterback is the shallowest position in football. Guys make long careers out of simply proving they can throw a football forward with some level of competency.

Fitzpatrick is a year removed from an above-average season as a starting quarterback and was part of a miserable situation in 2016. The Jets' near-constant in-fighting could not have helped their offensive struggles, and Fitzpatrick's own contract snafu kept him out of the entire offseason program.  

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