Fitzpatrick Finds Pot of Gold


Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, emerging offensive star for the Buffalo Bills, signed a six year contract extension this week worth $59 million, as reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

The contract includes $24 million in guaranteed money, and is a significant step up from his $3.2 million base salary for this season, the final year of the three year contract he signed as a free agent in 2009.

“It’s been a long road. There’s been a lot of hurdles and obstacles that I’ve had to overcome,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we’ve got this thing headed in the right direction. So to be a part of that, and to be able to continue to be a part of that for years to come, I’m really excited about it.”

The Bills are happy about it as well.  He is the first starting quarterback for the Bills since Doug Flutie in 1999 to get a contract extension from Buffalo.

“I’m excited about Ryan getting this done. He’ll be our quarterback for a long time,” general manager Buddy Nix said. “It really makes everything easier for us. It’s easy to put good players around him if you’ve got that position that you feel good about. And we do.”

A soft-spoken Harvard man with a blue-collar work ethic, Fitzpatrick took a winding road to get here, but he is one of the emerging stars of this year’s NFL season.  He is extremely intelligent (#5 on Sporting News list of smartest professional athletes) but soft-spoken, saying that interviews are the least favorite part of his job, but he is glad that the recognition they Bills are getting this season will help his teammates.  It is finally paying off for him as well.

The Bills are his third team since being selected in the final round of the 2005 draft by St. Louis. He later spent two seasons with Cincinnati before Buffalo picked him up in 2009.

He finally got his shot to start in 2010, and showed what he could do, passing for 3,000 yards and 23 TDs.  The Bills passed on the opportunity to pick up any of the numerous quarterbacks that were available in the draft and free agency and put their faith in Fitzpatrick.

This season, he showed that they were justified, and they have rewarded him appropriately.  The Bills are off to a 4-2 start, with impressive come-from-behind victories over the Raiders and Patriots, and Fitzpatrick has passed for 1,477 yards and 12 TDs.  He is tied for fifth in TDs and is eighth in passing efficiency, and the Bills’ offense is third in scoring with 188 points (over 31 points per game).

But the most important thing is the win-loss record, and at 4-2 Buffalo is looking to end their 9-year playoff drought.  With Fitzpatrick’s passing combined with running back Fred Jackson and the ground game, they look like they have a solid shot this year.

Jackson was also happy to see Fitzpatrick’s contract extension, as he wrote, “Congrats to my Dawg FitzMagic on his deal. Good to have him locked back in Buff!!”

Now that he has the job and the contract extension, he has to deliver on the field.  He has been doing that so far this season, and Bills’ fans can look forward to him as the starter for years to come.  Buffalo still has a tough road to get to the playoffs, as they share a division with the Patriots and Jets, but Fitzpatrick likes a challenge.

“I’ve been a quarterback my whole life, and that’s what it’s been for me my whole life,” Fitzpatrick said. “I welcome the challenge. It’s something that I feel like, throughout my career, I’ve excelled when the odds were stacked against me, and I’ve excelled when the pressure has been on me. And I’m looking forward to doing it some more.”

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