Deciding who will be retained in 2019 is a hard decision, but the one sure thing is that the starting quarterback is Jameis Winston. What of the future of his backups, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin?
We’ve seen what Fitz has done in relief of Winston, and he’s shown himself to be a very capable backup. Some would say beyond capable, enough to get another chance to start in the league again. No other QB in NFL history was able to start off as hot as FitzMagic did with 3 consecutive 400 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in three consecutive games to start the season.
Unfortunately for Fitz, he was never meant to take over. The league remembers you for what you really are, just a backup who starts hot and then crashes and burns further into the season.
While we didn’t necessarily see Fitz crashing and burning with the Bucs as he has with his previous teams the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and Jets, he was on a short leash in the Chicago Bears game. Unfortunately, his dream season came to an end when he was pulled after the first half in favor of the franchise QB Winston. It mattered little at Soldier Field with the Bears’ beatdown of the Bucs.
Does Fitz have a place with the Bucs in 2018 and beyond? It depends how badly a team needs a QB. There’s not a need for a QB from a contender, so it’s ultimately a losing franchise and a lateral move for Fitz if the Bucs move him, provided there’s any interest.
We can cross Buffalo off, given his past there. Unless Jon Gruden has soured on either Derek Carr and/or AJ McCarron, Fitz won’t go to the Raiders unless he’s guaranteed at least a chance to compete for a starting spot. The Giants already have a veteran in Eli Manning and likely are not looking to move on from backups Alex Tanney or Kyle Lauletta. The San Francisco 49ers are content letting C.J. Beathard stay as interim starters with Jimmy Garoppolo in injured reserve and their backups Nick Mullens and Tom Savage. The Arizona Cardinals have too much of a loaded QB core with Josh Rosen, Mike Glennon and Sam Bradford to have any room for Fitz.
Unless something drastically changes for a playoff contender, Fitz isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Griffin since he’s got no regular season playing experience. Don’t be surprised if both stay to the end of 2018.
When it comes to 2019, things get more interesting. It’s natural Fitz will test the market to gauge interest. If there are no quality teams that are willing to let him start or compete, he’ll either be a backup with a contender or he’ll stay with the Bucs, provided the coaching staff at the time will have him. If it’s Koetter, it’s almost guaranteed they’ll want him back.
Through five seasons, Griffin has been an extra body. Unless the Bucs have any plans whatsoever to draft a low round QB, he’ll likely stay, too.