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Jets sign Fitzpatrick, shake up AFC East

After five months of back-and-forth contract disputes, the New York Jets finally reeled in the signal caller they wanted all summer long.

According to NFL sources, the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finalized a one-year, $12 million contract on Wednesday, bringing Fitzpatrick back to the Jets for a second straight season. The deal comes one day before the Jets’ first training camp practice.

Initially, the deal was reportedly $9 million but the Jets upped the offer to $12 million before telling Fitzpatrick he had until 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday to take the deal or the team would move on.

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As a member of six different teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 23,178 yards and 154 touchdowns in 112 career games. photo: foxsports.com

Despite the stalemate, both parties’ intentions were to get the deal done all along. Last year, Fitzpatrick threw a franchise record 31 touchdowns and led the Jets to their best record(10-6) since 2010.

It would not make sense for the Jets to let Fitzpatrick drift away, especially with troubled quarterback Geno Smith, who returns to the No.2 spot on the depth chart after suffering a broken jaw last year during a fight with a teammate. Inexperience plagues the Jets’ quarterback crew as rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg and second-year quarterback Bryce Petty will vie for the No.3 role.

With Fitzpatrick under center, the Jets not only retain a great beard, but also retain points in the experience category. Fitzpatrick is going into his 11th season in the NFL and after throwing for a career-high 3,905 yards last year, he could be well on his way to picking up where he left off in 2015.

The AFC East is wide open. The New England Patriots, who finished atop the division at 12-6 in 2015, will be without Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the regular season due to a suspension for Brady’s participation in Deflategate. The Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999 and the Miami Dolphins have not made it since 2008.

With Fitzpatrick back in the Meadowlands, the Jets have a good shot at making their first postseason appearance since 2010.Barring a deep playoff run, Fitzpatrick could earn as much as $3 million in incentives, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Jets have certainly solidified themselves as one of the top defensive units in the league. However, with the rise of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker as one of the best receiver duos in the NFL, the offseason addition of star running back Matt Forte and Fitzpatrick back at the helm, the Jets have the potential to become a juggernaut on offense as well.

F-I-T-Z, Fitz, Fitz, Fitz!

 

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