The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback situation apparently won’t be changing. Back-up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to be retained by the team with a deal that will be finalized prior to free agency, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The #Bucs are expected to bring back QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in a deal that will be done before free agency, sources say. TB locks in their backup to QB Jameis Winston for the 2018 season. Fitz had a 2-1 record last year as a backup and returns for his 14th season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2018
The journeyman signal-caller signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Buccaneers last May to be franchise quarterback Jameis Winston’s backup. He ended up playing in six games last season and starting two, throwing for 1,103 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 58.9 percent of his passes. Tampa Bay went 1-1 with Fitzpatrick as a starter, but his play wasn’t necessarily a driving force behind the outcome of either game.
What perhaps looms even larger about Fitzpatrick to the Buccaneers than his prior playing experience and success is his relationship with Winston. The pair grew close last season, and coach Dirk Koetter no doubt hopes the steadying hand of a veteran like Fitzpatrick will help guide Winston to the on-field success his natural talents suggest.
After relieving Winston and almost leading Tampa Bay back from a 31-0 deficit in a Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Fitzpatrick showered his younger counterpart with praise.
“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played with,” he told ESPN’s Jenna Laine of Winston. “For him to have to come out of the game, that was killing him. I just wanted to do him right. I wanted to go out there and play well for him because I know how much he loves this game and how much this team means to him. I’m upset we didn’t pull off the win. I’m upset for him.”