|The Bills have no plans of letting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick get away this offseason. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former seventh-round pick out of Harvard who was destined for a life as an NFL backup quarterback, is close to getting a shiny new contract from the Bills. The two sides have made significant progress the past two weeks, according to multiple reports, and the hope is that a deal is in place shortly.
Buffalo is on their bye week, and the organization has closed the building through the weekend, which means that talks are temporarily on hold. Still, the 4-2 Bills owe much of their early-season success to Fitzpatrick, who has been one of the league's best quarterbacks (66.3 completion percentage, 1,477 passing yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs).
According to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, Fitzpatrick's new contract is expected to pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million a season, "but the sides still were trying to resolve issues such as guaranteed money (the Bills traditionally keep those figures relatively low)."
ESPN's Chris Mortensen hears something similar, noting that Fitzpatrick's new contract should fall in the $9 million-to-$12 million range, and adds that the Bills QB is in the last year of a three-year, $6.9 million deal he signed as a backup. His base salary is $3.195 million for 2011 and "it's expected he will be paid at least in the range of Kansas City's Matt Cassel, who signed a six-year, $63 million contract with the Chiefs."
The annual salary is considered "second-tier" quarterback money, which is about where Fitzpatrick falls at this stage in his career. He's not yet elite, but certainly something more than just a reliable starter.
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After taking care of Fitzpatrick, expect the Bills to start working on new deals for wide receiver Stevie Johnson and running back Fred Jackson, two players who have blossomed under second-year head coach Chan Gailey. If Buffalo and Fitzpatrick can't come to an agreement, the organization almost certainly will franchise him in 2012.
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