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Woody Johnson to Fitzpatrick: 'Come back to the Jets'

Woody Johnson has a clear message for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: "Come back to the Jets."

That's what the Jets owner told a group of reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting on Monday in Boca Raton, Florida, with Fitzpatrick and the Jets currently locked in a contract stalemate that shows no sign of a let-up as the calendar creeps toward April.

NFL Media's Judy Battista asked Johnson how confident he is that Fitzpatrick would return after throwing a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes.

"He had a great year last year and we'd like to get Ryan back, of course," Johnson replied. "But we've got to -- and it's just part of the process in free agency -- his side and our side and trying to come up with something that both sides are happy with."

Johnson was also asked if he was comfortable with Geno Smith potentially re-assuming a starting role. Fitzpatrick replaced Smith as starter after Smith suffered a broken jaw in a locker room fight during training camp.

"I'll leave it up to Mike (Macagnan) and Todd (Bowles) -- our general manager, head coach -- to come up with whatever plan they have in terms of acquiring somebody or going with somebody on our bench right now," Johnson said.

Call it the Colin Kaepernick effect. The Broncos might be Fitzpatrick's only legitimate leverage play, and Denver remains a favorite to land Kaepernick in a trade with the 49ers. And since that drama could play out until the draft, we might still be weeks away from Fitzpatrick clarity in Gotham.

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