<
>

Jets say they want FitzMagic, but talk is just smoke and mirrors

The Jets are going to have to offer Ryan Fitzpatrick more than $7 million per season if they don't want to take a step back. Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The New York Jets haven't been bashful about expressing their affinity for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The latest Ode to Fitz came from owner Woody Johnson, who sounded Monday like he wanted to nominate the quarterback for Man of the Year.

His teammates love him, Johnson said. The fans love him. Even kids love him.

No doubt, Fitzpatrick appreciates the love, but the words ring hollow unless they're accompanied by cold, hard cash.

Do the Jets really expect him to play for $7 million-plus per year? That's an insulting offer, and they're pushing him away with each day it sits on the table.

Fitzpatrick played the best football of his career last season, and he walked into a free-agent market in which Brock (Seven Starts) Osweiler landed $18 million a year year and Sam (Knees) Bradford pulled down $17.5 million.

The Jets shouldn't have to pay for other teams' extravagance by throwing crazy money at Fitzpatrick, but he's certainly worth more than $7 million and change. Evidently, it's his best offer, perhaps his only offer. Maybe the Jets can feel good about their handle on the quarterback market, but that doesn't make it the right offer.

Rhetoric notwithstanding, they're underestimating Fitzpatrick's value to the team. He might not be worth $15 million -- believed to be his asking price -- but there has to be a middle ground. He did a terrific job last season, and they should appreciate his intangibles. At 33, he's not the quarterback of the future, but the future in the NFL is next season. Without him, they would take a step back.

They're taking a calculated risk by leaving him out on the market, and the risk increases if another team -- the Denver Broncos, perhaps -- suddenly decides it wants to buy some FitzMagic. It would be wrong to assume he will return to the Jets if all things are equal.

The effusive praise is just posturing, the Jets' way of telling the fan base they're trying hard to bring him back. In this case, talk really is cheap.