The 33-year-old quarterback told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News on Thursday morning that it was an exhausting experience.
"Oh my gosh ... it's been a long six months for sure," Fitzpatrick said in what were his first comments since signing. "The biggest feeling was relief. Just relief to have it over and done with. And then when I was driving in (Wednesday night to the team facility) and walking up to the team meeting, it was like the first day of school. I was just all excited to see everybody and to be back in the building. Because through the entire offseason program, I wasn't allowed to be there. It was such a weird feeling ...."
Being away for the summer might have been weird, but rejoining the Jets always seemed inevitable from the outside. Fitzpatrick agreed that he wasn't going to wear anything but green in 2016.
"I thought that it would always get done," Fitzpatrick told the Daily News. "Unfortunately, we had to go through that long process to get to the end result. But I didn't have any doubts that at some point it would work itself out. ... Like I said, I'm ready to go and get to work and put it all behind us. And I'm glad that it's over."
The negotiation was about worth. Coming off a 31-touchdown season and one of the franchise's best quarterbacked years, Fitzpatrick wanted to be compensated properly for that production. The Jets didn't want to break the bank for an aging journeyman, who had hit his ceiling and suffered from fits of inconsistency. A middle ground seemed like the proper place to settle.
How long was Fitzpatrick actually prepared to sit out to get a new deal?
"That might be a better question for my wife," he told the Daily News, laughing. "She was giving me the evil eye every day. ... The two words that (general manager) Mike Maccagnan has used are fair and reasonable. I wanted something that was fair and reasonable. I think this worked out for both parties."
During the ordeal, plenty of Jets players spoke out in support of Fitzpatrick getting paid, something the quarterback appreciated.
"I'll tell you what. This whole process has been so long and hard and something I wouldn't wish upon anybody, but if there's a silver lining in it, at least for me, it's the respect and support that those guys showed for me throughout the process," Fitzpatrick said. "It was huge. That's why you play the game. You play the game for your teammates, who really want to play with and for you. That was big for me. ... I felt like I had to get back for those guys. I'm glad that we're going to be able to get to work today."
And we're glad we can stop covering a contract stalemate and get back to the field.