He may not be ready for offseason workouts or minicamp but that doesn't mean that Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be squarely in the mix for the New York Jets come training camp.
Two weeks ago, general manager Mike Maccagnan said that a broken leg suffered last season means that Fitzpatrick likely won't be ready to throw until training camp. The resulting domino effect points to incumbent starter Geno Smith as well as third-string quarterback Matt Simms as the two quarterbacks who will enter the offseason receiving the majority of snaps. Fitzpatrick isn't expected to be back on the field until later in the summer.
But a league source tells Metro that even if Smith has a “lights out offseason" the team still won't name a starter until Fitzpatrick is back.
There will be patience from the front office and coaching staff to see how the ace of the Wonderlic can recover from his season-ending injury last year. There's also a familiarity with this veteran quarterback as Fitzpatrick certainly has multiple ties to the team. Last year, he was with the Houston Texans where Maccagnan was the director of college scouting, and Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was his head coach for a spell with the Buffalo Bills.
All of which means, in the words of the source, that Fitzpatrick will be given the chance to make a case for the starting job.
“There is a familiarity with what he can do. He wasn't brought in just to backup,” the source said. “There's no need to rush him back. The Jets won't hurry to name a starter. This is a true competition at quarterback and 'Fitz' is going to get a chance to win the job.”
In fact, it might be more than just a chance to win the job.
“He was brought in with the idea that he can start come Week 1,” the source said. “It isn't a lock, it isn't a guarantee. But he was brought in knowing full well that he can win the job and help win some games.
“He was brought in and will be given the opportunity to win the job. No one is anointed this year. The best man will start and the Jets seriously think he can win this thing and be their starter.”
The source also confirmed a report from Metro in February that Michael Vick is not returning to the Jets.
“The team has moved on from him,” the source said.
Fitzpatrick suffered the broken leg in December and is progressing well.
“He will be ready by training camp,” the source said. “He's making nice progress.”