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Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to hit open market

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets were a match made in heaven last season.

The journeyman quarterback knitted together one of his finest campaigns for a New York club that came within a hair of the playoffs. The mutual success left Fitzpatrick as a sure-fire candidate to re-up with Gang Green, but the script has flipped two days away from the start of free agency.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Fitzpatrick is expected to hit the open market, per sources. Rapoport was told the sides are still far apart on a potential deal.

It's a surprising wrinkle after Jets brass spoke about Fitzpatrick as a lock to return. General manager Mike Maccagnan is on record saying the franchise prioritized re-signing the veteran passer who played inspired football under play-caller Chan Gailey.

"Everybody in the organization feels very strongly about this," Maccagnan said in January, after coach Todd Bowles confirmed: "We want him back."

It's possible Sam Bradford's two-year, $36 million contract with the Eagles swung the Fitzpatrick talks in a negative direction.

Bottom line: Free-agent success stories often boil down to fit. Fitzpatrick and Gailey know each other well from their days in Buffalo, a familiarity that helped New York get off to a quick start last season. Throwing Fitzpatrick into another situation could quickly turn him back into a ho-hum signal-caller.

We still expect the Jets to make a hard play for Fitzpatrick and get him under contract before all is said and done in Florham Park.

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