Exactly one week ago, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen passed along speculation that the Bills were working on a new deal for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
As it turns out, Mort’s report proved to be accurate as the seventh-year pro is now financially ingrained as Buffalo’s franchise signal-caller.
According to Mortensen, the Bills signed Fitzpatrick to a six-year, $59 million contract extension Friday.
The pact includes $24 million in guarantees and will pay him $11 million annually over the first three years, a steep jump up from the $3.195 million he’s earning this season.
While it’s an extraordinary amount of money to pay the 28-year-old, who was nothing more than a journeyman not too long ago, Fitzpatrick has led the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL this season, one that’s averaging 31.3 points per contest.
More importantly, his play has been the driving force behind the Bills’ 4-2 start as they look to earn a playoff berth for the time since 1999.
Fitzpatrick has shined in coach Chan Gailey‘s offense, which relies on short drops and quick reads, perfectly suited for the Harvard graduate. The proof is in his play; thus far, he’s passed for 1,477 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions with a stellar 66.3 completion percentage.
Let’s not kid ourselves: the Bills overpaid. Same as the Chiefs, who handed Matt Cassel $63 million in 2009. Fitzpatrick has his flaws, such as apparent physical limitations and a knack for disappearing toward the end of the last two seasons. But he’s arguably the team’s best quarterback since Doug Flutie and finally gives them some long-term security at the position after years of suffering through JP Losman and Trent Edwards.
It will be interesting to see how Fitzpatrick closes out the year now that he’s cashed in. Considering the monetary value, one has to figure the expectations have significantly been raised.