Daily Focus: Fitzpatrick deal smart short-term move for Jets
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Ryan Fitzpatrick deal is a smart short-term move for the Jets: After months of no movement on contract negotiations with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets have re-signed last season’s starter to a one-year deal. In the immediate, the deal means that the Jets should neither have to rely on Geno Smith as a starter this season, nor force rookie Christian Hackenberg onto the field too early. With little-to-no other options on the free-agent market, and Fitzpatrick already having played in the system, it’s the best (most realistic) case scenario for both parties with training camp opening today.
Now that Fitzpatrick is back with the team, however, it doesn’t mean that everything is immediately solved for the Jets at the quarterback position. Fitzpatrick had his second-lowest graded season of his past seven years in 2015, and was PFF’s 30th ranked quarterback out of 38 qualifying players. He ranked in the bottom-third of quarterbacks in overall adjusted completion percentage, on deep passes, and when under pressure. Even though he only threw 15 interceptions last year, his 31 turnover-worthy plays were second-most in the league.
Still, Fitzpatrick is only a year removed from his highest-graded season, and had graded positively in three of the four seasons prior to 2015. He’s proven to be a capable starter, and if he can cut back on the turnover-worthy plays, the Jets should fare just fine with Fitzpatrick under center.
The team is still better off than they were prior to his re-signing. Geno Smith has produced impressive games in his career, but has never been able to sustain that play for any considerable length of time. Bryce Petty has yet to play a single regular-season snap, and was the fourth-lowest-graded quarterback in the 2015 preseason. In addition, PFF has covered at length why Christian Hackenberg is not a viable option in the immediate future.
(PFF Fantasy Insight: Jeff Ratcliffe says Fitzpatrick’s return will have the most fantasy impact on WRs Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Meanwhile, prior to the signing, Brandon Marianne Lee said Marshall and Decker would likely be fine no matter who is at quarterback. Last week, Nathan Jahnke ran through the likely impact of a Fitzpatrick return to the Jets.)
Potential fits for QB Nick Foles: The Los Angeles Rams have reportedly been unable to find a trade partner for QB Nick Foles, and have subsequently released him. In four years, Foles has never played more than 80 percent of his team’s total offensive snaps, and has just one positively-graded season (2013) to his name. While he did have a good performance that year, he wasn’t nearly as good as his 119.2 passer rating or 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio suggested, earning the 14th-highest passing grade in the league. As a starter for most of last season, Foles ranked 33rd in both overall grade and adjusted completion percentage, and was among the worst quarterbacks when under pressure in 2015. Foles has shown he’s capable of having good performances, but has really only strung together multiple above-average games for part of one season.
So, who are the teams that should be interested in signing Foles? It’s likely that no one will be looking at him as a starter, but he may garner decent interest for teams looking for a veteran No. 2 backup. The Jets may have been a potential landing spot prior to Fitzpatrick’s signing yesterday, but at this point, will no longer be an option. Others franchises that come to mind include the Houston Texans, who signed Brock Osweiler in free agency after he earned average grades in 2015 on only 521 snaps; the Texans also have a very raw player in Tom Savage as the backup. Cleveland still doesn’t have their quarterback situation figured out; if Robert Griffin III ends up being the starter, an argument could be made that Foles could be a better backup option than Josh McCown, who has struggled mightily since leaving Chicago. Otherwise, there are several QB situations where Foles could be as good of a player as the current backups, but not drastically better where it would necessarily be worth replacing one for Foles.
What veteran WR Hakeem Nicks brings to Saints’ offense: After parting ways with WR Marques Colston earlier this offseason, the Saints have added a different veteran receiver to the young group in Hakeem Nicks. The former Giant and Colt was a top-10 wide receiver during New York’s Super Bowl season in 2011. However, his play has steadily declined since then, and he’s dealt with injuries in multiple seasons. Nicks has not finished a season with an above-average receiving grade since 2012, and has just four above-average games over the past three seasons combined. Still, Nicks is surprisingly only 28 years old, and not past the age where he could still regain his prior form. But his first priority needs to be staying healthy, and New Orleans shouldn’t have too high of expectations for Nicks at this point.