Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets are engaged in one epic stare- down, and it’s unclear who will blink first.
Both sides want to be reunited, but according to multiple reports, the free-agent quarterback and the Jets remain miles apart on the parameters of a new contract, forcing general manager Mike Maccagnan to explore other options.
Enter Colin Kaepernick.
The Jets reportedly are one of three teams that have inquired about trading for the 49ers quarterback, who was benched at midseason last year in favor of Blaine Gabbert. According to multiple reports, including CSNBayArea.com, the Jets, Broncos and Browns have checked in with San Francisco to discuss compensation for Kaepernick. But that doesn’t mean Maccagnan seriously is considering pulling the trigger on a trade.
Kaepernick reportedly is the Broncos’ chief target, and the Browns “are far more serious” about acquiring him than the Jets are, according to NFL Network.
All three teams are desperate for a starting quarterback. Super Bowl champion Denver lost its top two options with the retirement of Peyton Manning and the exit of Brock Osweiler, who signed a four-year, $72-million deal with Houston. The Browns are expected to part ways with Johnny Manziel, their troubled former first-round pick, and neither Josh McCown nor Austin Davis is considered a long-term answer.
But although landing Kaepernick is the Broncos’ goal, general manager John Elway also has a Plan B: Fitzpatrick. Denver reportedly has reached out to Fitzpatrick’s representative, Jimmy Sexton, in case Elway can’t swing a deal for Kaepernick.
In the Jets’ eyes, however, Fitzpatrick isn’t just a fallback plan. Re-signing him has been one of their top free-agent priorities, but they haven’t been willing to cave in to Sexton’s asking price.
The Jets reportedly offered Fitzpatrick a deal comparable to the one that backup Chase Daniel received from the Eagles — three years, $21 million, with $10 million guaranteed. The big difference between Daniel and Fitzpatrick: Only one is viewed as a ready-made starter. New Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Thursday that Daniel is his No. 2 behind Sam Bradford, who helped set the inflated quarterback market with a surprising two-year, $36-million deal.
The Jets made it clear this offseason that Fitzpatrick, whom they acquired from Houston via a trade last March, will be their starter again if he returns. But last year he made $3.25 million, and he and Sexton are seeking a significant raise that well exceeds Daniel’s deal.
Early Thursday morning, ESPN reported that the Jets and Fitzpatrick are “nowhere close to an agreement, with no deal expected anytime soon.” That’s not good news for the Jets, whose other quarterback options are backups Geno Smith and Bryce Petty.
Fitzpatrick has the starting job waiting for him. But Maccagnan doesn’t want to commit a lot of years and/or a large sum of cash to a 33-year-old journeyman who figures to be a Band-Aid until he finds his franchise quarterback.