CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — Breaking his offseason silence, free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said Monday he intends to play football in 2016 and hopes it’s for the New York Jets.
“I would like to be back,” Fitzpatrick told two reporters at the Hudson National Golf Club, which hosted former teammate Willie Colon’s charity outing.
Fitzpatrick, whose contract talks with the organization have been at an impasse for three months, said he didn’t want to comment on what he called “negotiations.” He made it clear, however, he has no plans to walk away, refuting a recent report that said he’d consider retirement if the Jets don’t make him what he considers a fair offer.
“I’m playing,” the 33-year-old veteran said. “I’m playing football next year.”
The Jets said from the outset they want to re-sign Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback, but their offer — believed to be about $8 million — is far below his initial asking price. The team added another layer of intrigue by drafting Christian Hackenberg in the second round.
Fitzpatrick, coming off a career year for the Jets, outperformed fellow quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford, but those two received deals from the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles that average $18 million and $17.5 million a year, respectively.
Fitzpatrick believes those contracts have no bearing on his value.
“I think earlier in my career, I think that’s something you fall into as a player,” he later told SiriusXM NFL radio. “Right now, no. I understand the market and I understand those guys. I’m happy for them, what they got.
“I know my value to a team is my value to a particular team. You’d drive yourself crazy if you look at other guys and say, ‘Why not me? Why not me?'”
The Jets begin their offseason practices on Tuesday, the first of 10 practice sessions before their mandatory minicamp. Team officials haven’t put a deadline on the Fitzpatrick talks, except to say they’d ideally like to have a resolution by the time training camp starts in late July.
All signs point to Fitzpatrick returning to the Jets, mainly because he has no other known suitors. That he spoke publicly on the eve of the first practice could be perceived as an encouraging sign.
He also likes playing for the Jets. He was relaxed and upbeat as he mingled with current and former teammates at Colon’s event, which raised money for Lupus research.
“It was probably my best season last year in terms of how much fun I had with the guys, out there every Sunday,” he told SiriusXM. “It’s something I still really enjoy doing, it’s something I want to continue to do.”
Colon, also a free agent, threw his support to Fitzpatrick.
“You’re talking about someone who’s invested,” said Colon, who played for the Jets in 2014 and 2015. “He’s not just playing quarterback, he’s living it, he’s waking up to it, he’s eating it. If the Jets don’t understand that we haven’t had that in a long time, then we need to kind of re-evaluate what we’re doing here. He’s everything.”