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Who's the NFL's greatest journeyman? Frank Gore vs Ryan Fitzpatrick

The NFL's average career length is six years for players who make an opening day roster as rookies. If a player bounces around on different teams, he will likely be out quicker.

That is, unless the player is named Ryan Fitzpatrick or Frank Gore.


There are 32 years of NFL experience between the two and they've served on 14 different teams over a long career. How have the two 16-year NFL vets been able to stay relevant in the league this long?

Every league needs journeymen and these are two of the best.

A journeyman can be described as a player who has been reliable for years but hasn't quite been the face of the franchise. Both these men entered the league in 2005 and have charted their own paths since. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Frank Gore are both well-known, respected players in the game and are both popular memes in pop culture. But who has had the better career so far?


Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Frank Gore: Legendary NFL journeymen

Both men entered the league during the 2005 NFL Draft, but one was drafted much earlier than the other.

RB Frank Gore graduated from the University of Miami and was drafted in the third round (65th overall) by the 49ers. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate, was selected in the seventh round (250th overall) by the then-St. Louis Rams.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Frank Gore: Career NFL teams

They've both played in 16 NFL seasons (Fitzpatrick entering his 17th and Gore a current FA) and have played in at least one game in each of these seasons. Based on the numbers, Gore has played in more games than Fitzpatrick by a landslide.

  • Frank Gore - 241 total games- 218 starts- 13.6 average starts/year
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick - 165 total games- 146 starts- 9.1 average starts/year

Fitzpatrick has also played on nine different teams throughout his career, while Gore has played on just five. That's what makes a true journeyman, though. Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick has been on nine teams in 17 seasons, he's been relevant and fairly successful at every franchise.

  • Frank Gore's NFL teams - San Francisco 49ers 2005-2014, Indianapolis Colts 2015-2017, Miami Dolphins 2018, Buffalo Bills 2019, New York Jets 2020, 2021 Free Agent
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick's NFL teams - St. Louis Rams 2005-2006, Cincinnati Bengals 2007-2008, Buffalo Bills 2009-2012, Tennessee Titans 2013, Houston Texans 2014, New York Jets 2015-2016, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017-2018, Miami Dolphins 2019-2020, Washington 2021

It's hard to believe that these two haven't played on the same team together even though there is quite an overlap in their careers (Miami, Buffalo, and New York).


Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Frank Gore: Career earnings and achievements

Everyone says money talks and it sure does for these two. Neither have been outstanding on the field, but have made quite a career in consistency


  • Frank Gore career earnings - $63.3 million- average $4 million/year
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick career earnings - $71.6 million- average $4.5 million/year

Ryan Fitzpatrick's Washington contract isn't included in these figures to keep them even and he hasn't officially made the final roster yet. Based on these numbers, both men have earned quite a living in the NFL. Fitzpatrick has made more money but he's a QB and RBs usually don't get paid accordingly. He's also had several more contracts and signing bonuses compared to Gore.

Something Frank Gore can lord over Ryan Fitzpatrick is his Pro Bowl selections. Frank Gore was selected to five Pro Bowls (all with San Francisco) in his career. Gore also made the second-team All-Pro team in 2006. Fitzpatrick has his own accolades to boast about, though.

  • Frank Gore NFL Achievements: 5 Pro Bowls, 2006 Second-Team All-Pro, 3rd All-Time in NFL rushing yards, 3rd All-Time in NFL rushing attempts, 10th-best career rushing yard average, 19th All-Time in NFL rushing TDs, NFL record for most games played by an RB (241), 1st NFL player with 12 consecutive 1,200+ yards from scrimmage in a season, 49ers' career rusher (1,695), 5th All-Time in NFL All-Purpose Yards
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick NFL Achievements: 30th All-Time in NFL passing yards, 34th All-Time in NFL passing TDs, 26th All-Time in NFL passing completions, NFL record for most 400+ passing yards in a season (4), NFL record for most consecutive 400+ passing yards in a season (3 in 2018), 1st QB with to start and beat a team with six different teams (Jaguars), 1st QB with 4 TDs in a game with five different teams, Jets' career leader in passing TDs in a season (31), only Buccaneers QB with multiple 400+ yards in a game (4 in 2018)

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Frank Gore: Conclusion

Frank Gore seems like the better player since he hasn't bounced around as much as Fitzpatrick. Ryan "Fitzmagic" was successful on all the teams he played for and earned more money overall in the process. But, Gore has more NFL awards than the QB with his Pro Bowls.

Apart from these arguments, there is something else that sets them apart and gives Gore the title of the NFL's best journeyman: the playoffs.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has never been to a single NFL playoff game yet. Gore, meanwhile, has been to the postseason four times and also featured in Super Bowl XLVll with the 49ers, losing to the Ravens.

Amazingly, Fitzpatrick has the most career passing yards and TDs for a QB yet to make the playoffs, a record that may not be broken for a long time.

Gore's biggest regret in his career could probably be that he never led the league in rushing yards. He finished third in 2006 with a career-high 1,695 yards.

While Frank Gore takes the cake in this contest, both these players have somehow stayed relevant as starters in the league for almost two decades. Few can boast such longevity.

The ongoing question for several years has been whether these two are worthy of the Hall of Fame. We can expect both to have their names called one day, but Gore has a better chance at being a first-ballot entry.

Edited by
Colin D'Cunha
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