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Making Sense of Bills' Decision to Get Rid of Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bills seemingly endless streak of futility at the quarterback position took another turn on Wednesday with the release of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, who was playing on a 6yr $59M contract, was due a $3M roster bonus on thursday. By releasing Fitzpatrick the Bills no longer have to pay him that roster bonus, and can now move forward at the quarterback position in the Doug Marrone era.

The original plan was to try and convince Fitzpatrick to restructure his deal, so that the Bills could keep some of their own players and add some in free agency. That being said, many feel the Bills are using the financial aspect of this decision as somewhat of an out. It just feels like the Bills are trying to move on at the position and felt that they could go no further with Fitzpatrick.

I can understand the reasoning behind the Bills decision to let Fitzpatrick go, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. As easy as it would be to point to Ryan Fitzpatrick as the reason for continued mediocrity in Buffalo, it really isn’t that simple. Fitzpatrick may not have been great, but he was not only good, but the best quarterback this team’s had in quite some time.

I just can’t figure out what he’s done to lose his job to - at this point - Tarvaris Jackson of all people. Fitzpatrick just posted the highest passer rating of his entire career and ranked 17th in the league in that stat. Sure, that’s not great, but it is better than the likes of Matt Stafford, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman. Not one of them has to worry about their job security. Granted, they were all drafted much higher than Fitzpatrick and are younger, but it’s a worthwhile comparison.

The main complaint with Fitzpatrick though has been consistency. Ever since he signed his big contract, he has struggled with it. That’s not an entirely unfair criticism. By that same token, it is incredibly difficult to get into a rhythm with only one receiver worth throwing the ball too. It’s worth mentioning that C.J. Spiller was a great help in the passing game, but for a quarterback to be successful he’s going to need more than one legitimate weapon at receiver and a check down option. Even the one good receiver he had in Stevie Johnson was a relative non-factor until Fitzpatrick won the starting job.

It’s not Fitzpatrick’s fault the Bills rushed to offer him the massive contract, that’s wound up being his undoing, after his 5-2 start to the 2011 season. It’s not his fault they never surrounded him with any weapons. He just never seemed come out on top from these tough circumstances though and now he’s left looking for a job elsewhere. Such is the difficult reality of managing the salary cap.

For the Bills, who originally planned on having Fitzpatrick and Jackson compete for the starting job, this is the beginning of a new era. Don’t be surprised if this move increases the Bills interest in drafting Ryan Nassib out of Syracuse, where Marrone coached last season. Not sure he’ll launch the Bills into the playoffs either though.

You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV


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