From one Jets quarterback to another, Joe Namath has one piece of advice for Ryan Fitzpatrick: It’s time to end the contract impasse, sign a new deal and resume your career in New York.
“A quarterback wants to have a good team and the Jets have a good team, so I think it behooves [Fitzpatrick] to re-sign with the Jets,” the Hall of Fame quarterback said Tuesday at the BTIG Charity Day event in New York. “Fitz fits in here, and the team likes him. I would hope he’d be back. I know the team wants him back.”
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Fitzpatrick indicated a clear preference toward the end of last season to re-sign with the Jets, but he hasn’t come to terms on a new deal just yet. Team owner Woody Johnson said at the BTIG event, which raises money for several charities and attracted several current and former high-profile athletes, that there is “no news’ regarding Fitzpatrick’s contract situation. The owner didn’t seem overly concerned that a new deal hadn’t been struck yet, however.
“Nothing new to report,” Johnson said. “We’ve got until training camp to get something done.”
But Namath, the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl for the Jets, said it’s a no-brainer for Fitzpatrick to come back after a 10-6 season in 2015.
“As a former quarterback, I know the importance of having a good team with you,” Namath said. “He happens to be on the best team of his career last year. I’ve got to believe Fitz wants to be a Jet. The players on the team want him to be there. Let’s hope they can work it out.”
Namath called the contract situation “a numbers game. Unfortunately, it’s business.”
Asked if he would be comfortable with Geno Smith as the Jets’ starter in case Fitzpatrick doesn’t re-sign, Namath replied, “I’d feel comfortable with Fitzpatrick out there.”
Another former Jets player in the Hall of Fame echoed Namath’s sentiments about Fitzpatrick. Curtis Martin, the team’s all-time leading rusher, said the current quarterback’s best play is to return to the Jets.
“I want him to [re-sign], because I think the more he plays with the team, I think he’s getting right to the point where you start catching on as a team,” Martin said. “You start to click with each other. I would hate for the Jets to have to start over again from the quarterback standpoint, because that’s one of the most difficult positions to integrate into an offense. Quarterback play has been a struggle for the Jets for a number of years. I’d hate to see someone who has some traction leave and someone else has to come in and start over. That prolongs the success the Jets are capable of having.”
How much should the Jets pay Fitzpatrick? Martin doesn’t know the parameters of a potential deal, but he does have a general idea of what would work.
“I don’t know what he’s asking, but whatever it is, there’s a number out there that’s fair and I think he should get a little more than what’s fair,” he said. “Do I think Fitz is the greatest quarterback? No. But do I think he’s good and he can help the Jets win? Yes. I think he’s smart, I like him as a quarterback. And if I had something do to with it, I think that he should get a little more than what’s fair, but not try to break the bank.”