BOCA RATON, Fla. — Todd Bowles doesn’t appear to be the least bit fazed by the drawn-out negotiations with free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“It’s a business. It takes time,” Bowles said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. “It’s the end of March but nobody’s doing anything right now — we’re not playing, we’re not practicing, we’re not coaching anything, so everybody has a right to be stubborn.”
Despite a shared desire to reunite, the Jets and Fitzpatrick’s camp remain far apart on money. Although the organization hasn’t given agent Jimmy Sexton a firm deadline, the front office has come to an agreement on how long it can wait for the return of “FitzMagic.”
“There’s a point that we discussed internally that we won’t divulge,” Bowles said. “But we understand where we are at this point, and right now we’re not close to that.”
The Jets’ revamped roster generated instant results in 2015: their first winning record in five seasons and multiple franchise records, including Fitzpatrick’s 31 passing touchdowns. But one player won’t dictate the success or failure of a franchise in Bowles’ eyes — even a veteran quarterback.
Asked if the organization would take a step back if it doesn’t bring back the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick, Bowles said: “No. We have Plan B, C and D in place.
“In football, you lose guys every year, so you better have plans in place. Whether it’s injury, whether free agency, whether it’s a suspension, you’re going to lose guys every year, and you better know what you have on your roster to go in and step in and play and not miss a beat.”
But how do you “not miss a beat” with a new quarterback?
“You’re back at square one whether you have the same quarterback,” Bowles said. “You’ve got to rebuild your chemistry every year, regardless of whether you have the same players or new players. It’s a new season. There’s nothing you can take from last year, other than we were 10-6. We’ve got to rebuild that chemistry anyway, so it’s not going to be a factor.”
He said backups Geno Smith and Bryce Petty “could be an option” if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return. The Jets also hosted former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on a two-day visit, though it seems unlikely that he’ll end up in green and white.
Griffin, a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick in 2012, was a lightning rod during four tumultuous seasons in Washington. But Bowles said the Jets’ level of interest won’t be swayed by the potential circuslike atmosphere that likely would follow him to Florham Park.
“You don’t factor that in,” Bowles said. “You factor the guy’s personality, you factor a guy’s playing ability and you factor whether he’s coachable and fits in with the team. Everything else just comes along with it.”
Griffin took a physical at the facility. “Everything’s fine,” Bowles said, adding that the former Baylor star “impressed me” with his knowledge of football history.
Although some fans may be intrigued by the idea of bringing in Griffin, the Jets’ priority remains re-signing Fitzpatrick, who led the team to within one win of the playoffs.
Said Bowles: “Things will work out one way or the other.”