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The wait is over: Ryan Fitzpatrick out as Bills quarterback

The Buffalo Bills this afternoon released quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after unsuccessfully trying to restructure his contract. (Photo: Associated Press)


By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills today released quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after being unable to work out a restructuring of his contract.

Fitzpatrick was due to receive a $3 million bonus on Wednesday. The Bills did not want to pay it. Extensive talks to get Fitzpatrick to agree to terms on a lesser deal were unsuccessful.

The move leaves the Bills with last year's third stringer, Tarvaris Jackson, as their only quarterback with noteworthy NFL experience. It's expected the Bills will try hard to take a QB in the upcoming NFL draft.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said in a statement released by the team:

"We kept every possible option open right down to the wire when we had to make a decision on whether to keep Ryan. In the end, we had to do what we feel is best for our football team and it was a very difficult decision.

"Ryan did some great things as our starting quarterback. He is a class act, a terrific guy with a great family and has been involved in many charitable endeavors in our community. But difficult decisions often have to be made and so we are moving forward. We wish Ryan and his family the best of luck in the future and offer him our sincere thanks for everything he has done for the Bills.

"Our focus remains on adding another quarterback to our roster and we will continue to explore every option available to us."

Fitzpatrick ends his four-year Buffalo tenure with a 20-33 record as the starting quarterback. He received $21 million of the six-year, $62 million contract he signed in October 2011.

That was the apex of Fitzpatrick’s tenure. His deal was signed with the Bills at 5-2. They slumped to a 6-10 finish and then finished 6-10 again last season.

A renegotiation of the deal was a priority because Fitzpatrick was due to count $10.4 million against the Bills’ salary cap this season if he had received this week’s bonus.

The Bills offered Fitzpatrick a new, four-year deal that averaged $3 million a year, with an opportunity to make $4 million a year more each year in incentives, according to a source close to the talks. It was not clear what Fitzpatrick would have had to do to reach those incentives.

Fitzpatrick, who is represented by high-profile agent Jimmy Sexton, could not reach terms agreeable to him.

In releasing him, the Bills deferred some of the cap hit they will take by giving him a "post-June 1" designation. He will count $3 million against this year's salary cap and $7 million against the Bills' salary cap in 2014.

Those numbers account for amortized bonus money Fitzpatrick already has recieved. Normally, if a player is released before June 1, then all of his bonus money counts against the current year's cap. If a player is released after June 1, only the current year's portion of his bonus money counts against the cap, and the amortized bonus for future years counts the following year.

The Bills were able to take advantage of a rule that allows a team to desginate up to two players a year as post-June 1 cuts, even though they get released before June 1.


Ryan Fitzpatrick | Tarvaris Jackson
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |