We saw plenty of magic from Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2020. The 38-year-old passer was benched in Week 6, in favor of rookie Tua Tagovailoa, but provided a veteran presence head coach Brian Flores looked to in some of the team’s most dire situations.
The Dolphins had a good quarterback problem; it’s rare, but they exist. Fitzpatrick, who understood Tagovailoa was coming to Miami to be its starting quarterback, fully leaned into his role. The Dolphins were on the cusp of the playoffs because of it. Miami’s two quarterbacks led the team to a 10-6 record, which was its best mark since 2016, and in the final week of the regular season, the Dolphins finally had a chance to make it back to the playoffs. This would have been their first appearance since that 2016 season. Fitzpatrick was not available for that final game against one of the newest AFC contenders, the Buffalo Bills. He tested positive for COVID-19. Miami fell, 56-26, to end its season and likely Fitzpatrick’s time with the team.
But, as the sun sets on Fitzpatrick’s time there, he’s not ready to officially hang up his cleats. Fitzpatrick recently expressed his desire to keep playing. It won’t be a sure thing in this rich quarterback market that has already seen Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff switch teams; and with talent like Deshaun Watson’s on the move, an aging quarterback could have difficulty finding a home. Look no further than the Dolphins, who are in the Watson sweepstakes—and if they don’t land him, will continue to build the team around Tagovailoa while moving on from Fitzpatrick altogether.
“This offseason, we already saw it with [Jared] Goff and [Matthew] Stafford obviously,” Fitzpatrick said Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show. “Who knows what’s going to happen with Deshaun [Watson]. There’s rumors everywhere in the quarterback market, but there are a lot of teams looking for a new quarterback or new quarterbacks. For me, personally, I have to take every offseason and reassess. These last two years have really re-lit that fire under me and I still want to play and I enjoy being out there playing.”
Fitzpatrick played some of his best football these past two seasons. He passed for 5,620 yards with a 64.2% completion rate. In 24 games with the Dolphins (with 20 starts), Fitzpatrick wasn’t the most accurate quarterback; he threw for 33 touchdowns and 21 interceptions but a bulk of those came from the 2019 season. Last year, he completed a career-high 68.5% of his passes while throwing 13 touchdowns to eight picks. He’s not the best option available and teams might not clamor for him, but Fitzpatrick offers something a lot of the other available passers don’t: competency in a variety of situations.
It sounds silly saying, or typing, this. But there are plenty of second-string quarterbacks—even a number of starting passers—that lack the competency that a quarterback at the highest level of football should have. This is where the Fitzmagic happens. He can start when a team needs him and deliver clutch performances while returning to his spot on the depth chart after. This wasn’t an easy pill to swallow for Fitzpatrick; he expressed his own frustration with becoming QB2 after a storied career, but he took it in stride. He could pair best with a rookie or young passer that hasn’t quite found their way yet, or land on a team in desperate need of a quarterback change.
Fitzpatrick cannot afford to be picky. He’s open to, unlike the recently traded Stafford, to playing for a team like the New England Patriots; funny enough, the Patriots are one of the many teams eyeing a QB change and have been linked back to Fitzpatrick throughout NFL media circles. Others like the Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers can create a quarterback competition or use Fitzpatrick as a player-coach for a young talent either team brings in.
After 16 years in the NFL, Fitzpatrick will have a couple more seasons left as a very suitable backup. He’s a little too loose with the ball, and his problems with turnovers negatively affect his ability to have a full-time starting role. But he can be a bridge quarterback for organizations who miss out on the top passers in the 2021 NFL Draft and look to the rest of the free-agent market unintrigued.
- Jun 24, 2022
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