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Retain, tag, or let walk? - Ryan Fitzpatrick

Cincinnati Bengals v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s the 2021 offseason, and that means it’s time for speculation aplenty! Before the Miami Dolphins head brass sets its eyes on the 2021 NFL Draft, the front office must first navigate the tumultuous waters of NFL free agency, a time where superstars break the bank and journeymen veterans find new homes. For the Dolphins, this period of the team’s offseason requires general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores to make tough decisions about the team’s impending free agents. Today, we’re moving on to the second article of our annual “Retain, tag, or let walk?” series here at ThePhinsider.com: what should the Dolphins do with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick?

Fact Check

Position: QB

Age (at start of 2021 season): 38

Height/weight: 6’2”, 228 lbs

College: Harvard

Expiring contract: Two-year, $7 million (per spotrac.com) - UFA

2020 Review

Games played: 9 (7 starts)

Passing yards: 2091

Completion percentage: 68.5%

Touchdowns: 13

Interceptions: 8

Ryan Fitzpatrick was named the starting quarterback to enter the 2020 season, as the coaching staff deemed that Tua Tagovailoa needed more time following an abridged offseason to recover from a serious hip injury and learn the offense. As we all know, following a 3-3 start, Fitzpatrick was unceremoniously benched and the rookie fifth-overall pick was inserted as the team’s starter. One emotional and dramatic Fitzpatrick press conference and an impressive comeback performance by Tagovailoa over the Arizona Cardinals later, the torch seemed to be fully passed to the future face of the franchise.

Uncertainty returned when Tagovailoa went on to underwhelm in games against the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, both games in which Fitzpatrick was deployed as a relief pitcher to provide a spark to the offense (and a miraculous comeback in Las Vegas). Fitzpatrick’s “head-turning” heroics (no, I’m not sorry) allowed Miami to stay in the thick of the playoff race. Whether or not you believe now-departed offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was primarily at fault for the sometimes stagnant offense that Tua ran, there’s no denying Fitzpatrick’s offense was able to move the ball up and down the field with more consistency (albeit more recklessness too).

2021 Outlook

With Fitzpatrick likely wanting another chance to start and Tagovailoa seemingly set as the starter going forward (per general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores), it seems unlikely that Fitzmagic returns to Miami. Given the old gunslinger’s relationships in the locker room and with the coaching staff, there’s little doubt that he’d be welcomed back with open arms as a backup, but the idea of potentially continuing to rotate quarterbacks in Tagovailoa’s second year seems counterintuitive to letting the 22-year old grow and mature as a full-fledged starter.

Expect Fitzpatrick to be looking for something in the $5-$7 million range as a bridge starter or high-end veteran backup.

Verdict

As much as I appreciate Fitzpatrick (as does the rest of the NFL world), I don’t see Flores and Grier bringing him back for the sole reason that he knows this will be Tua’s team going forward. It’s likely Miami’s front office looks for a cheaper veteran option or a young mid-to-late-round QB in this year’s draft to back up Tua.

Hier’s verdict: Let walk

Poll

Should the Dolphins retain QB Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Retain
    (883 votes)
  • 42%
    Let walk
    (647 votes)
1530 votes total Vote Now

“Tag” is not an option in this poll because Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a candidate for the franchise tag.

This article was written by The Phinsider Staff Writer, Justin Hier. Follow Justin on Twitter @HierJustin.