The Jets remain in a contract stalemate with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The suggestion that he would rather retire than accept the Jets’ offer, which is reportedly in the neighborhood of $7 million to $8 million per year, is believed to be just posturing.
The two sides should be able work out a compromise. Although Christian Hackenberg was taken in the second round, the Jets want Fitzpatrick back, because having him under center represents the team’s best chance to get to the playoffs. The 33-year-old journeyman doesn’t have any other viable starting opportunities and was never going to get anything close to Sam Bradford’s two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles averaging $17.5 million per year, which has $22 million fully guaranteed.
A little less than $4 million of cap space probably isn’t enough to sign Fitzpatrick without some maneuvering. The Jets also have to sign first-round pick Darron Lee, whose expected four-year, $10,221,645 deal will have a $1,858,481 2016 cap number.
Signing franchise player Muhammad Wilkerson long term would solve the Jets’ cap problems, because a deal would give him a 2016 cap number significantly lower than his $15.701 million franchise tender that’s current counting on the books. Such a deal seems unlikely because he is believed to seeking a deal in excess of the $16,666,667 per year with almost $52 million in guarantees three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt received from the Houston Texas in the six-year contract extension he signed in 2014.
Restructuring Darrelle Revis’ five-year, $70,121,060 deal could create the most cap room of any player under contract, because he has a fully guaranteed $17 million salary this year. It’s probably better to leave his contract as is, since the Jets can walk away from the deal with minimal cap consequences after the 2017 season when there isn’t any guaranteed money. This ability could be compromised with a restructure.
Reworking Brandon Marshall’s deal, which runs through the 2017 season, may be a better idea. He has the third-highest cap number on the team at $9.5 million and there isn’t any signing bonus proration with his contract.
Fitzpatrick’s return could make 2013 second-round pick Geno Smith vulnerable, because teams rarely keep four quarterbacks. The league trend is to go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster with a third on the practice squad. General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles don’t have a vested interest in Smith, who was drafted by former general manager John Idzik.
Gabbert worked with the first-team offense throughout the offseason as Kaepernick recovered from surgery to repair a torn left shoulder labrum in addition to procedures on his right thumb and left knee.