"Obviously, it's a pretty high priority," Bowles said of Fitzpatrick's pending free agency, per ESPN.com. "He's the quarterback. He had a great year for us. We want him back.
"If he comes back, he'll be the starter."
Fitzpatrick broke Vinny Testaverde's team record with 31 touchdown passes, and finished just behind Joe Namath as the all-time single-season yardage leader. With "Fitzmagic" behind center, the Jets registered double-digit wins for the first time since 2010 and had a top 10 offense. Not bad for a guy general manager Mike Maccagnan acquired for a sixth-round pick last March.
"I hope so," a downcast Fitzpatrick said Monday of a Jets return. "I don't want to live with hypotheticals, but I had a lot of fun this year. It's the most fun I've ever had in a season, with the guys in this locker room and the run we had in December. Hopefully, I can be back and can continue to build on that."
This is the ultimate no-brainer for the Jets. Geno Smith -- champion of solid foods or otherwise -- is not the answer and Bryce Petty remains a raw and unproven commodity. Fitzpatrick is, by far, the team's best option. The Jets can continue to draft for the future if they so choose, but it would be foolish to go in a different direction now.