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The Ryan Fitzpatrick Contract Dilemma

Posted on March 6, 2013 by Patrick Moran

FitzDisclaimer: This post is based purely on numbers, not inside information or personal opinion regarding what the Buffalo Bills may do with Ryan Fitzpatrick between now and March 13 at 4:00pm.  That’s the moment Fitzpatrick is due a $3 million roster bonus.

For the purpose of this exercise, I’m not discussing Fitzpatrick’s on-field value to the team. With that said, here’s the financial dilemma facing Russ Brandon, Buddy Nix and the rest of the organization’s front office.

If the Bills do nothing with Fitzpatrick over the next eight days, they’ll pay him his $3 million bonus on March 13. It’s extremely doubtful he’d be cut after getting his hefty bonus, so he’d go on to earn a $4.45 million salary for 2013 and a cap number this year of $10.450.

If Buffalo is to cut Fitzpatrick over the next eight days, they’ll save spending money, but precious little in regards to the cap.  Releasing him immediately triggers $10 million in dead cap charges, attributed to his signing bonus received in 2011 and an option bonus received in 2012.

To me, what the Bills should be doing and I’m guessing they’re attempting to do is restructure his current deal over the next week.

Stay with me on this.

If he restructures now, the team would still pay him the $3 million roster bonus.  They could then restructure his $4.45 million base salary so that more money is pushed towards the end of the deal.  Realistically Fitzpatrick can get a deal for this season that would pay him $4 million with no guarantee of a starting job or even a roster spot for that matter.  Doing this would not only save the team close to $3.5 million in cap space for 2013, but incur less dead cap space in the future when they release him.

The Bills could push that restructured money of Fitzpatrick’s salary all the way down to the final year of his deal in 2017; a season he surely won’t see in Buffalo.

By all accounts, at least from how I see it, Fitzpatrick would be wise to accept a restructured deal now if the alternative is getting cut.  If he’s cut before March 13 he receives nothing from Buffalo and goes out on the open market.

What that market brings remains to be seen, but I’m not sold on Fitzpatrick getting more money and a better opportunity to start than he has in Buffalo.

By accepting a restructured deal he guarantees himself of at least $3 million next week.

This should be an interesting week.

(Photo: Michael Thomas)

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