He once performed at a level that convinced the club he should be paid like a franchise quarterback, but less than two years after signing a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills have parted ways as the team released the veteran signal caller Tuesday.
"We kept every possible option open right down to the wire when we had to make a decision on whether to keep Ryan. In the end, we had to do what we feel is best for our football team and it was a very difficult decision," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "Ryan did some great things as our starting quarterback. He is a class act, a terrific guy with a great family and has been involved in many charitable endeavors in our community. But difficult decisions often have to be made and so we are moving forward. We wish Ryan and his family the best of luck in the future and offer him our sincere thanks for everything he has done for the Bills."
Now with just two quarterbacks on Buffalo's roster in Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp, Nix also made it clear the club plans to make an addition to the position.
"Our focus remains on adding another quarterback to our roster and we will continue to explore every option available to us," added Nix.
Fitzpatrick was a welcome departure from the gun shy quarterbacking that preceded him in 2009. After starting six of the last seven games in 2009 under then interim coach Perry Fewell, Fitzpatrick was handed the starting job come Week 3 of the 2010 season under former head coach Chan Gailey.
After the team went 4-4 over their final eight games in 2010, Fitzpatrick was entrenched as the team's starter. Following a 5-2 start to the 2011 campaign the quarterback was rewarded with a six-year contract extension. Unfortunately since his new agreement with the club, the Bills with Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback won just eight of their last 26 games.
Bills new head coach Doug Marrone announced last month that the starting quarterback job was going to be an open competition after the club re-signed quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Fitzpatrick was to be part of that competition, but that situation obviously changed.
With a cap figure of more than $10 million it's likely that the club approached Fitzpatrick to see if he would restructure his contract. Obviously the two sides could not come to new terms.
While Fitzpatrick certainly was responsible for the vast majority of Buffalo's turnovers the past two seasons, including the 2011 season when he led the league with 23 interceptions, he was not helped by a defense that never ranked higher than 22nd overall, 28th against the run or 26th in points allowed over the past three seasons.
Fitzpatrick's career numbers with the Bills saw him complete just under 60 percent of his passes (59.8) for 11,654 yards with 80 touchdowns and 64 interceptions and a passer rating of 79.8. His won-loss record in his four seasons with Buffalo was 19-34.