Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

By Alex Butler  |  May 19, 2017 at 12:42 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

May 19 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made an interesting addition Friday, bringing in free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

A source involved told NFL.com that the deal is for one year and worth $3 million in base salary.

Fitzpatrick is a 12-year veteran. He completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 2,710 yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season for the New York Jets. In 2015, he completed 59.6 percent of his throws and had career highs with 3,905 yards and 31 scores. He also threw 15 interceptions.

He was originally a seventh round pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 2005 NFL Draft. After two seasons with the Rams, Fitzpatrick joined the Cincinnati Bengals for two years. He then played for the Buffalo Bills from 2009 through 2012. He played one season for the Tennessee Titans and played the 2014 season for the Houston Texans, before joining the Jets in 2015.

Fitzpatrick is no threat to unseat Jameis Winston, but this is an interesting move for a franchise concerned about Winston's ability to protect the football. Fitzpatrick has been one of the most mistake-prone quarterbacks in the league during his career.

"Part of the problem is he's [Winston] such a competitive individual, that's what makes him so great," quarterbacks coach Mike Majakian told reporters Wednesday. "You don't want to coach the aggressiveness out of him. The big thing is he's got to do a better job of understanding situational football. I know five of those interceptions came on third-and-10-plus, where our chances of converting on that [down and distance] are statistically 20 percent or less."

Fitzpatrick, 34, has thrown at least 12 interceptions in five of his last six seasons. He threw a league-high 23 picks in 2011

"He's got to understand that, 'Hey, we don't have to make a big play on every play.' There's certain situations where we just maybe need to check it down, add a couple yards to the punt and make the other team's offense go a little bit further," Majakian told reporters. "He's getting a better and better understanding of that, and that's part of a growth process that he's gone through since day one. He's a smart player, he understands that. I think sometimes it's just getting caught up in the moment."

Fitzpatrick signed a two-year contract with the Jets last offseason, but the deal was voided in February. He told the New York Daily News in April that he was "excited for his next opportunity."

"I'm working out, excited for my next opportunity," Fitzpatrick told the Daily News. "Once the draft happens, the picture will become much clearer."

The Jets let Fitzpatrick walk despite not have a much better alternative. Free agent Josh McCown tops the depth chart after signing with the franchise in March on a one-year deal. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg also stock its stable of gunslingers. McCown is the franchise's most experienced passer, starting just 29 games since 2007. Petty has four stars and Hackenberg has yet to attempt a pass in the NFL.

Tampa Bay also re-signed backup quarterback Ryan Griffin in April and inked Sean Renfree in January on a reserve/future contract. The Buccaneers waived Renfree Friday to make room for Fitzpatrick.

Winston, 23, is entering his third season. Last year he set career marks with a 60.8 completion percentage, 4,090 yards and 28 touchdowns. But he also threw 18 interceptions, three more than he did his rookie season. But Winston improved on the most important stat of all, posting a 9-7 record as a starter, following his 6-10 mark as a rookie. The 2015 Pro Bowl selection welcomes plenty of new weapons this season, including speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson, rookie tight end O.J. Howard and rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Mike Glennon, Winston's former backup, is now a member of the Chicago Bears. Before adding Fitzpatrick, the Buccaneers had no experience behind its starter as none of its other backups have started an NFL game.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories