If Ryan Fitzpatrick starts the games Jameis Winston is suspended for, he will join some very good company among current NFL quarterbacks.
In the wake of news Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick is in line to take over as the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback during that time. Talk of No. 3 quarterback Ryan Griffin having a legit chance to usurp Fitzpatrick seems like a reach, with Fitzpatrick’s experience as his obvious edge in any competition.
Fitzpatrick started three games for Tampa Bay when Winston was injured last year, with a 2-1 record as much as that matters. If he indeed starts those three games in Winston’s place this year, he will enter some very select company among the league’s current set of signal callers.
Per Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith, with the assumption of those three starts and assuming the others reach that minimum too, Fitzpatrick would be one of eight quarterbacks to start at least three games each season from 2008-2018.
The other seven? Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. Six of them have appeared in a Super Bowl, and five have won one with Manning and Roethlisberger the owners of two rings each. All seven have played for just one team during that stretch too.
Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, would have his 11-season streak starting at least three games cover time with six teams.
First came 12 starts for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008, followed by 53 starts for the Buffalo Bills from 2009-2012, nine starts for the Tennessee Titans in 2013, 12 starts for the Houston Texans in 2014, 27 starts for the New York Jets in 2015 and 2016 and of course last year’s three outings for the Buccaneers. Add in three starts for the St. Louis Rams as a rookie in 2005, and Fitzpatrick’s 119 NFL starts have come for seven teams.
Fitzpatrick defines what it is to be a journeyman quarterback. But he has a good chance to be mentioned among the best signal-callers of the past decade-plus by a certain measure of longevity, even if he’s been nothing more than a stop-gap or a top-line backup through most of his career.