FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — There’s no doubt in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s mind that he can be a starting NFL quarterback again. But he’s under no illusion about his future with the Jets.
“I think there’s probably an obvious reality the way the year is going to come to a close for me,” the 34-year-old quarterback said Wednesday, hinting that their season finale against Buffalo likely will be his last start with the Jets.
Sunday’s matchup with the Bills (7-8) will be the final chapter in a season gone terribly wrong, not only for the Jets (4-11) but also Fitzpatrick. Coming off the best season of his career — 31 touchdowns and 3,905 passing yards — he had, arguably, his worst: 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions (tied for second-most in the NFL) and a 2-8 record as a starter.
He failed to live up to the 2015 promise as well as the lofty expectations that came with his one-year, $12 million deal, which he signed in July after turning down the Jets’ initial three-year contract that included more guaranteed money but $6 million in the second and third seasons.
He told reporters this summer that he was willing to “bet on myself and see what happens.” But it’s now clear that he miscalculated the risk.
“I think the Kansas City game (six interceptions) was tough in terms of all of the interceptions and turnovers that game,” he said. “(I) just kind of got into a downward spiral there that I was never really able to get out of. I don’t know if you can put it on one particular thing, but I just have not played well.”
Though there have been “plenty of failures in my career,” he acknowledged, 2016 has been “the most difficult, just in terms of the expectations I had for myself, for the team, for all of those things,” said Fitzpatrick, who is 45-69-1 over 12 seasons with six different teams. “For me to not meet some of that stuff definitely has been difficult.”
Make no mistake: he still believes he has a future in the NFL. “I think as long as I still enjoy doing it, then I’ll keep doing it,” he said. But the choice may not be his. This past offseason, no other teams were interested in signing him as a starter besides the Jets. Now, it’s unclear how many, if any, will be interested during free agency.
Sunday will be his last opportunity to get a win this season, with these teammates, wearing this jersey. And he’s determined to enjoy it.
“I get to go out there and play another game,” Fitzpatrick said. “I love competing with these guys. That’s how I look at it. Just another opportunity to go out there and have fun with the guys.”
Asked how he’ll look back on his two seasons with the Jets, Fitzpatrick smiled and said: “We’ll see. It’s not up yet. We’ve got one more game. Maybe we can answer that after this game.”