Jets' Todd Bowles: No 'drop-dead deadline' to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Get ready for six more weeks of the Ryan Fitzpatrick contract saga.

The New York Jets opened their mandatory minicamp Tuesday without their 2015 starting quarterback, who is still unsigned, and it sounds if they're prepared for the standoff to last until the start of training camp, July 27.

"If it doesn't get resolved in the next two days, it's going to have to, I guess," coach Todd Bowles said after practice.

There will be no sense of urgency once the Jets start their summer break Thursday. Bowles said the Jets "don't have a drop-dead deadline," hinting that he wouldn't be opposed to letting the issue linger into training camp.

"The later he comes in -- if he comes in -- the more he has to catch up on," Bowles said of Fitzpatrick. "Hopefully, [it's] sooner than later, but you treat it like an injury. If he's not here, you get other guys ready to play."

The Jets are giving former starterGeno Smith positive reviews for his work in the offseason, with Bowles claiming Smith is "light years ahead" of where he was at this time last year. The Jets continue to say, however, the starting job belongs to Fitzpatrick if he re-signs.

In February, the Jets offered Fitzpatrick a three-year, $24 million contract, according to sources. It included $12 million in the first year, but only $6 million in each of the last two years -- essentially, backup money.

Fitzpatrick's absence continued to dominate locker-room interviews. Wide receiver Eric Decker, outspoken in his support of Fitzpatrick, acknowledged it could be a distraction at times.

"It takes away from focusing on everyone else in the locker room and what our goals are and what we're trying to accomplish this season," Decker said."When a quarterback is being spoken about, it's one of the premier positions on your team, so it's going to have to be talked about. But it's just something that's out of our control in the locker room, and we just want to be able to focus on playing football."

Star cornerback Darrelle Revis, addressing reporters for the first time since the end of the season, chimed in with his support for Fitzpatrick.

"Ryan is a big part of our success, he definitely is," Revis said. "He came in here, and he's broken a bunch of records in the quarterback category. He was a big part of the offense. The [contract stalemate] has been going on all offseason, and we're waiting for him to come back.

"We want him back, and we want to see him walk in this locker room."

The Jets also could be without Pro Bowl defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson for a significant period. He has yet to sign his franchise tender, and sources said that he has become so frustrated with his contract situation that he might not report to training camp.

The two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract, but that appears unlikely.

"It would be his prerogative," Bowles said. "Business is business. We'd like to have him here, but if he doesn't feel like he needs to be, that's on him. I've got a team to coach."

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