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Ranking all the stages of Ryan Fitzpatrick's NFL career

The 'Fitzmagic' era in the NFL is officially over
The 'Fitzmagic' era in the NFL is officially over
Chris Winterburn

In an announcement that proved to be as much of a surprise to players as it was to fans, Ryan Fitzpatrick called time on his career after 17 seasons in the NFL.

The "Fitz-magic" era is now in the past, with the league losing one of its most charismatic players, who illustrated that increasing age didn’t have to equate to a downturn in performances.

The journeyman quarterback was loved wherever he went, even if he never quite had the ability to be an elite signal caller in the NFL. This is shown by the fact that he represented 9 teams throughout his time in the league.

His reliability and strength of character attracted teams to him as a backup option, yet invariably he would win-out and emerge as the starter at multiple teams.

Ryan Fitzpatrick served as the starting QB for 9 different teams in his career, the most of any player in NFL history.BengalsBillsBuccaneers CommandersDolphinsJetsRamsTexansTitans

Fitzpatrick ended his career with a lengthy text message to teammates, with the Washington Commanders being his final destination before riding off into the sunset.

In appreciation of the popular quarterback, we have ranked his time in the NFL by his performances with each of the franchises he represented.

#9 – Washington Commanders (0W 1L)

Los Angeles Chargers v Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers v Washington Football Team

It is somewhat upsetting that the worst period of Fitzpatrick’s career will be the last memory we have of him.

He signed a one-year deal with Washington to be the team's starter and he held that role until his first game with the team. He was injured during the second quarter and didn't return. Unfortunately, the injury would result in him missing the entire season. Unless he changes his mind on retirement, it is the last we will see of the veteran quarterback on the field.

Not only did his Washington career stand at a single defeat, Fitzpatrick completed just three of six attempted passes, was sacked once and fumbled the ball once.

#8 – St. Louis Rams (0W 3L)

St. Louis Rams 2005 Headshots
St. Louis Rams 2005 Headshots

The St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles) drafted Fitzpatrick all the way back in 2005, yet he wasn’t the answer for the team at quarterback. In two seasons with the struggling team, he was able to start just three games, all of which came in his rookie year.

He threw for 777 yards and four touchdowns and couldn’t find a rhythm and was an immediate target for defenses.

His ball retention skills were poor, he was sacked nine times and he fumbled the ball on three occasions. He had eight interceptions during his time with the Rams.

✨ The original Fitzmagic ✨Playing in the first game of his @NFL career, Ryan Fitzpatrick guided the @RamsNFL back from a 21-point halftime deficit by tossing 3 TDs, including a 56-yard game-winner in overtime. (Nov. 27, 2005) (Via BuffaloBills91/YT) https://t.co/eUFCAyzEG7

#7 – Tennessee Titans (3W 6L)

Tennessee Titans v Oakland Raiders
Tennessee Titans v Oakland Raiders

His short stint in Tennessee came in 2013, with Fitzpatrick starting just nine games. He won three, lost six and threw for 2,454 yards.

Interceptions were still an issue as he racked up 12 on the year, but he did at least throw 14 touchdown passes.

In one season with the Tennesee Titans, he was sacked 21 times and he fumbled the ball 9 times.

Whilst he had rebuilt his reputation with the Buffalo Bills before signing with Tennessee, his spell with the Titans showcased some of his worst football.

#6 – Cincinnati Bengals (4W 7L 1T)

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals

As a seventh-round draft selection, it is unusual for a team to trade for you after you fail to succeed initially. However, Ryan Fitzpatrick was given a shot by the Cincinnati Bengals after the Rams decided to trade him, and it was a mixed experience.

He didn’t play a single game in 2007 due to being a backup to Carson Palmer, but when injury struck the starter in the 2008 season, Fitzpatrick had his chance.

He ranked third in rushing for quarterbacks in the 2008 season with 304 yards, although this was way before the emergence of modern, mobile playmakers.

#JacksonvilleWeek 2008 #bengals beat the #Jaguars 21-19. A beardless Ryan Fitzpatrick with 2 TD's - BOTH to @ochocinco #CincinnatiFootballHistory #SeizeTheDEY https://t.co/ZHbXSEdmGv

Fitzpatrick won four games with the Bengals, but he was once again battered at the line of scrimmage, taking 38 sacks in a single season and fumbling the ball 11 times.

#5 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4W 6L)

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Before the Tom Brady era brought a championship to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they had Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick backing him up.

It was here that popular opinion started to shift on the veteran, even if his numbers weren’t outstanding. People enjoyed and respected his lack of quit in the NFL, and the fact that he showed his attitude and drive on every play.

This window was ridiculous by Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the reaction after the 2 pt conversion even better! #Buccaneers #GoBucs #TBvsCIN https://t.co/IdzPgSF0tF

Winston’s injuries gave Fitzpatrick his shot, and he responded by winning four of his 10 starts across two seasons.

He only fumbled the ball four times across two years and was sacked 21 times, which highlighted an improvement in his weakest areas.

#4 – Miami Dolphins (9W 11L)

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets
Miami Dolphins v New York Jets

2019 saw the Miami Dolphins become the latest team to secure the signing of Fitzpatrick. He had become the archetypal backup quarterback in the NFL and was being paid as such.

In his debut season with the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick started 13 games. He had a record of 5-8 that year and threw for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

These aren’t elite numbers, but he was able to keep the Dolphins team competitive whilst producing moments of extreme excitement in games.

Never forget Ryan Fitzpatrick led the #Dolphins in rushing at age 37. He was the oldest player to lead his team in rushing in #NFL history (Frank Gore, who just retired too, broke it the next year).Fitzpatrick rushed for 243 yards and 4 TDs in that 2019 season. #FinsUp https://t.co/LqmaDHiIWx

His highlight with the Dolphins came in 2020 when he produced a deep completion for Mack Hollins against the Las Vegas Raiders, all whilst having his facemask pulled almost behind his head.

It was a moment that was testament to Fitzpatrick’s work-ethic and desire.

Ryan Fitzpatrick made this pass looking backwards with a hand yanking on his face mask. 🤯#FinsUp (-2.5) win a Boxing Day thriller 26-25. #MIAvsLV https://t.co/EFgP0QHaVL

#3 – Buffalo Bills (20W 33L)

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills
New York Jets v Buffalo Bills

It was with the Buffalo Bills that Fitzmagic first made a mark in the NFL.

After the disappointments in St. Louis and Cincinnati, he would spend four seasons in Buffalo, including the final two where he was the guaranteed starter and played every game.

In three of his four years in Buffalo, he threw for at least 23 touchdowns and 3,000 yards. Fumbles and sacks were still a problem, but on a poor team it was Fitzpatrick who stood out.

His 98-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens in 2009 is a franchise record and it’s fair to say this period built Fitzpatrick's reputation.

Who remembers the longest passing TD in @BuffaloBills history?? I bet the legend @terrellowens and Ryan Fitzpatrick do.T.O. is a damn KING 🔥 - 9 rec for 197 yards and a 98-yard touchdown from Fitz in the third quarter 👇🏾#GoBills #BillsMafia @TheConductPod https://t.co/AZbMngYCkA

#2 – Houston Texans (6W 6L)

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos
Houston Texans v Denver Broncos

In a single year with the Houston Texans, we saw perhaps the most mature and consistent version of the quarterback. He had an even record of six wins and six losses, throwing for 2,483 yards and 17 touchdowns.

He made history for the Texans in a 2014 game against the Titans, throwing a franchise-record six touchdown passes in a single game, a record that still stands to this day.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a franchise-record six touchdowns in a 45-21 win over the Titans in 2014.#TexansTop100 » No. 27 https://t.co/1iCMqbSZuG

#1 – New York Jets (13W 14L)

Seattle Seahawks v New York Jets
Seattle Seahawks v New York Jets

The Texans traded their quarterback to the New York Jets in 2015, which would bring about the greatest period of his professional life.

Once again, fate would shine on the player who seemed born to be a backup. A pre-season punch from a defensive lineman to Geno Smith left the starter with a broken jaw and all of a sudden the former seventh-round pick was the Jets’ biggest hope.

His 2015 season was historic as he gained his first winning record, leading the Jets to a 10-6 season.

He threw for 3,905 yards, the closest he would ever get to the 4,000-yard mark, but his 31 touchdown passes that season remain a franchise record, something the great Joe Namath never managed.

Just two days after thumb surgery, Fitzpatrick would still play in a game against the Jaguars, throwing two touchdown passes. The overtime game-winning drive against the New England Patriots was a particular highlight.

Fitzpatrick elevated himself to a bona-fide NFL starter, but his second year in New York fell flat, despite signing a guaranteed $12 million contract.

Irrespective of that, his first year with the Jets was a player at his absolute best, who had extracted the absolute most out of the talent he had been given, and it’s the season that we will all remember the most when thinking of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The last Jets quarterback to beat the Patriots is now retired…. Ryan Fitzpatrick the 2015 season was special https://t.co/RKnG4TBqT5
Edited by John Maxwell

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