How does this keep happening?
For the 13th straight season, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be employed as a quarterback in the National Football League.
The 34-year-old passer was able to convince the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that they should be the next team to add the veteran with no particularly impressive skills and no real record of success.
Fitzpatrick has been bouncing around the league since entering as a seventh-round pick in 2005 – and it’s really been quite amazing.
Through 12 seasons, his numbers are weirdly impressive:
- Winning records: 1
- Playoff appearances: 0
- 25+ passing touchdown seasons: 1
- 4,000-yard passing seasons: 0
- Teams signed with: 7
- Contracts signed: 9
- Money earned to date: $51,066,098*
*according to spotrac.com
Fitzpatrick has proven to the NFL he’s not a top-tier, playoff-caliber quarterback year after year, yet he continues to find work – and, up until Friday, he had been finding work as a starting quarterback somehow.
His alma mater, Harvard, and his record-high Wonderlic score of 48 have been the most impressive aspects of his resume, resulting in the most common defense of any team that has acquired him.
“How hard can it be to read a defense if you studied at Harvard?” asked the fans trying to convince themselves their team still knows what it’s doing.
In the case of the Buccaneers, Fitzpatrick is in a better-suited role than the previous eight years or so of his career, serving as a backup to Jameis Winston as the 23-year-old matures as a star quarterback. However, it’s worth a second look through his career to see how Fitzpatrick came to gain employment time after time.
St. Louis Rams – 2005
Fitzpatrick was the 2004 Ivy League MVP, giving him enough credibility for the Rams to make him the 14th quarterback drafted in 2005 and their new third-stringer. A fairly innocent way to enter the league.
Cincinnati Bengals – 2007
After two seasons as a rarely-used backup in St. Louis, Fitzpatrick was sent to the Bengals for a seventh-rounder to be Carson Palmer‘s backup. He was called into his first major action in 2008, starting 12 games for an injured Palmer, though his performance was forgettable.
Buffalo Bills – 2009
Following his 12-game run as the Bengals’ starter, the Bills handed Fitzpatrick a three-year, $7.405-million deal to compete for the starting job with Trent Edwards. He won it by November, after the Bills fired their head coach following a 3-6 start. It was a sign of things to come.
Bills – 2011
During his third season as the Bills’ starter – aside from a two-game benching to start 2010 – Fitzpatrick signed a six-year, $59-million contract with Buffalo, motivating him to throw a then-career-high 24 touchdowns, though he also had 23 picks. He was released in March 2013, less than 17 months after signing the long-term contract.
Tennessee Titans – 2013
Fitzpatrick looked like he may have been served a piece of humble pie, accepting a role behind Jake Locker with the Titans after flaming out with the Bills. However, a Week 4 injury to Locker put the Harvard product in the starting lineup for nine games, which led to his two-year contract being cut in half after the season in favor of “Clipboard Jesus” Charlie Whitehurst.
Houston Texans – 2014
Fitzpatrick came to the Texans as the anointed starter, lost his job to Ryan Mallett (yes, that Ryan Mallett), had it fall back into his lap through another injury, and then lost it again due to an injury of his own. Thrilling stuff.
New York Jets – 2015
After 10 seasons of mediocrity, Fitzpatrick stumbled into his only good season as a pro, rejoining former Bills coach Chan Gailey and taking advantage of a talented personnel group that included Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. His 31 touchdowns were a career best, but a three-interception performance in a Week 17 loss to the Bills cost the Jets a playoff appearance.
Jets – 2016
Whether he knew he had played over his head or not in 2015, Fitzpatrick sold the Jets on the idea he could finish the job in 2016, receiving a one-year, $12-million deal to ideally repeat his performance. It really didn’t work.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2017
Finally, the league learned its lesson and didn’t include Fitzpatrick in the starting quarterback discussion.
While he hasn’t shown much talent, Fitzpatrick must be doing something right to keep finding jobs in the NFL. A tip of the hat to you, sir.
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