Thanks for filling the mailbag again with terrific questions. You've helped turn this into a popular Saturday feature. This week, we'll do it on Sunday too. For now, the New York Jets question du jour is ...
— ja$on payback. (@JASON_PAYBACK) March 3, 2016
@RichCimini: For background, you should know that Sam Bradford and Ryan Fitzpatrick are represented by the same firm. In fact, Jimmy Sexton is listed by the NFLPA as one of the agents for both players, so I don't think news of the Bradford deal sent shock waves into the Fitzpatrick camp. Basically, we're talking about the same camp.
As for the actual deal, yes, I think it could impact Fitzpatrick in terms of the structure, if not the overall value. Bradford's contract with the Philadelphia Eagles is two years, $36 million, including $22 million fully guaranteed at signing. If the Eagles aren't happy after a year, they can cut Bradford. It won't be cheap (a $9.5 million cap hit in 2017), but they can get out. Some might view it as a one-year, $22 million contract, with a team option for the second year.
Understandably, the Eagles didn't want to go all-in with the oft-injured Bradford, who still hasn't lived up to his lofty draft status as a former No. 1 overall pick. So the two sides came up with a "bridge" contract, with the Eagles paying a pretty penny to have that second-year flexibility. I think that kind of structure makes a lot of sense for Fitzpatrick and the Jets, who probably don't want to commit long term to a 33-year-old quarterback.
Fitzpatrick won't get $18 million a year or $22 million guaranteed. Yeah, he had a better year than Bradford, but Bradford is five years younger and would generate more interest on the open market than Fitzpatrick. I spoke to a prominent quarterback agent near the end of the season who estimated that Fitzpatrick would fetch something in the $10 million to $12 million-a-year range. Since then, I've heard $8 million to $10 million per year, including at least $10 million in guarantees.
Clearly, the Jets are the best fit for Fitzpatrick. Where else could he go into camp as the undisputed starter? The Houston Texans? Been there, done that. Texans coach Bill O'Brien traded Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate, because he didn't think he was smart enough to run his offense. Imagine that.
Who looks like the smart guy now?