The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new back-up quarterback. By signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $3 million deal (plus incentives), Tampa Bay fills the void left by Mike Glennon’s departure to the Chicago Bears.
The good news is the Bucs are free from a problem that faces other franchises from time-to-time when training camps begin. The words “quarterback controversy” will not be spoken or written when training camp begins in two months. Unless a pre-season injury says otherwise, Jameis Winston will line up under center on opening day in Miami.
Fitzpatrick’s arrival brings a ho-hum reaction among the media and the faithful. What a difference from a year ago.
Last year, the New York Jets were desperate to re-sign Fitzpatrick after his best season as a pro. The 12-year veteran had put up career numbers in 2015.
He had his only winning season, leading the Jets to a 10-6 record, passing for 3,905 yards with 31 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Jets got their wish, but Fitzpatrick was a disaster under new head coach Todd Bowles.
Fitzpatrick threw for 2,710 yards with 12 touchdowns, but suffered 17 interceptions. Ironically, the favorite to win the Jets job this year is a former Buc flop, Josh McCown.
Also available, but overlooked, was Robert Griffin III. The former Heisman Trophy winner has struggled since becoming Washington’s first-round pick (second overall) in the 2012 draft. He has suffered through numerous injuries, including last year in Cleveland. Missing nearly the entire 2016 season helped make the risk to sign him too high.
Colin Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the 2013 Super Bowl, was also available but someone the Bucs “didn’t even consider.” No one would say so on the record, but few would want to run the risk of a media circus over last year’s kneeling for the National Anthem.
While Kaepernick put up much better stats than Fitzpatrick, passing for 16 touchdowns with four interceptions in 11 games, who wants such a distraction for a backup quarterback? Perhaps the answer is the Seattle Seahawks who, according to coach Pete Carroll, is interested in signing the polarizing quarterback.
Rookie free agent Sefo Liufau and Ryan Griffin, in his fourth year, will also compete for the backup job in training camp.
Bucs Nation is expecting Winston to further develop into a top NFL quarterback this year. However, they have a more fundamental request of the former Heisman winner from Florida State.