With rising star Jameis Winston their unquestioned leader, and former starter Mike Glennon now in Chicago, the Bucs signed Fitzpatrick on Friday to fill a role as their backup quarterback and provide much needed veteran leadership to a green group. That’s it.
Should the 34-year-old Fitzpatrick – coming off the worst season of his 12-year career – have to lead the Bucs on the field at any point, Tampa Bay’s season will have taken a significant turn for the worse.
Nonetheless, the signing was necessary.
Entering last season, the Buccaneers owned one of the youngest rosters in the league, with an average age of 25.7. Though this will be the seventh stop in Fitzpatrick’s long-traveled career, he brings with him 127 games of experience.
In Winston’s sophomore season last year, his backup, Glennon, had played in almost as many games as him. Now, should Winston have any questions, he can turn to someone who has quite literally been around the league.
The Bucs have grand goals this season. They’ve assembled a roster that’s expected to end a playoff drought dating back to 2008, and appropriately identified that they needed insurance at the backup quarterback position in order to do so – someone Winston won’t have to look over his shoulder to if he has a three-interception game.
Think Matt Schaub backing up Matt Ryan. Matt Moore behind Ryan Tannehill. Matt Cassel to Marcus Mariota. (Perhaps there were no other Matts available.)
It should be noted that Fitzpatrick has yet to play in a single playoff game, and his all-time record is 46-69-1. His stats aren’t what made him suitable for Tampa’s No. 2 QB role, however.
Colin Kaepernick represents a younger, more successful option than Fitzpatrick. Arguments will be made that the Bucs should have signed him instead. However, should something happen to Winston, who took 35 sacks and fought off numerous nagging injuries last year, the offense would have to change for its backup if Kaepernick were the pick.
If Fitzpatrick has to fill in for a play or a drive or two, he may throw an interception, as he has done 133 times in his career and six times in one game last year, but the Bucs are banking on Fitzmagic using his veteran savvy to keep the team out of precarious positions.
With Fitzpatrick, the Buccaneers get all they need: a mind for Winston to mine for information. Nothing less. Nothing more.
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