The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ryan Fitzpatrick have agreed to terms. The addition of a 34-year-old backup quarterback coming off a dreadful season isn’t the most exciting news in the world. But, luckily, it shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum anyway.
With each and every middling quarterback to find work comes the realization that it’s one less opportunity available to Colin Kaepernick. And even if you think his social consciousness precludes him from playing in the NFL, it’s at least reconsidering the situation when someone like Fitzpatrick gets a job — as it was when Blaine Gabbert was snatched up earlier this month.
Consider that Fitzpatrick threw 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last year. Nine of those picks came over a two-week stretch early in the season (six against Kansas City and three against Seattle. Kaepernick, on the other hand, has thrown 9 total interceptions over the past two years while playing in 21 games.
Look, I understand that stat doesn’t come close to painting the full picture. Fitzpatrick is a bigger risk-taker on the field and will naturally throw more interceptions. His knowledge of the game will make him a resource for Jameis Winston and we don’t know what asking price/other requirements Kaepernick has in order to sign.
We do know that $3 million is no bargain for a backup quarterback. It’s the 34th-highest cap charge going into 2017 and similar to those of Colt McCoy, Chad Henne, Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel and Derek Anderson. It seems likely that Kaepernick’s asking would be slightly higher, but in the same neighborhood and that the Bucs picked Fitzpatrick over him.
Reasonable arguments can be made regarding which player is a better fit as a safety net for Winston.
At the same time, it has to give one pause to at least wonder what the hell is really going on. There are at least 90 quarterbacking jobs in the NFL. Not a single sane person would suggest Kaepernick isn’t one of the top 90 quarterbacks qualified. If he doesn’t end up on a team, someone (Kaepernick) — or some entity (the NFL) — will have some explaining to do.