Ryan Fitzpatrick’s roller-coaster stint with the New York Jets has for all intents and purposes come to an end.
On Friday the second year of the two-year contract he signed before the 2016 season was automatically voided, making him a free agent for 2017. As a result, the Jets will lose $5 million in cap space for 2017.
The Jets acquired Fitzpatrick in a 2015 trade with the Houston Texans after a season-ending leg injury the year before.
Originally expected to be the backup to incumbent starter Geno Smith, Jets head coach Todd Bowles gave Fitzpatrick the job after Smith broke his jaw in a locker-room incident. He would go on a record-setting run that turned the team from a 4-12 team from 2014 into a 10-6 team in 2015.
Fitzpatrick would finish the 2015 campaign with some of the best single-season numbers in franchise history. His 3,905 passing yards (second-most in team history), 335 completions, and 562 attempts were all second in team history. But the 31 TDs and 5.5 TD% were both franchise records.
During the campaign, Fitzpatrick helped WR Brandon Marshall set multiple franchise records for receiving. Marshall and WR Eric Decker would both finish the season with over 1,000 yards and 12+ TDs – the first Jets teammates to achieve double-digit TDs in the same season.
However, after failing to make the playoffs in 2015, the Jets brass balked at giving him a long-term contract. They negotiated until just before the start of training camp and reached a “two-year, $12 million” guaranteed deal with him.
Though the contract was signed as a two-year deal, it was actually structured as a one-year deal. The $12 million guaranteed salary would be spread out over two seasons: $7 million in 2016, and $5 million in 2017.
As of writing, Geno Smith is also set to become a free agent at the start of the new league year. That will leave the Jets with only Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg under contract for 2017.