Well, that’s embarrassing. A bad day got even worse for Ryan Fitzpatrick on Tuesday when he was cut by the Buffalo Bills just hours after an online story revealed an apparent phone conversation between Bills GM Buddy Nix and Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik, in which Nix had some less-than-kind words to say about his quarterback.
Fitzpatrick’s future in Buffalo has been a question mark this offseason, and the conversation — recorded illicitly by a pair of pranksters, according to the story on Deadspin — likely had nothing to do with the decision. Still, it all adds up to one rough Tuesday for Fitzpatrick, who just 17 months ago signed a fat contract extension to stay with the Bills.
While fallout from the leaked conversation began to grow, the NFL free agency period began, and the Bills were excited:
Nix, through the Bills’ Twitter account, said the team had kept “every possible option open right down to the wire” with regards to their decision whether to keep Fitzpatrick on board.
The move creates a gaping hole in the Buffalo quarterback depth chart and means you may not have seen the last of Tarvaris Jackson (yay!) taking snaps as a starting NFL quarterback. He and Aaron Corp are the two passers left on the Bills roster. Nix also said the team’s focus will turn to adding another option at the position, meaning he has managed to alienate all three of his quarterbacks in the same day.
But the more pressing issue for Nix may be fallout from the recorded conversation. According to the Deadspin story, two prank callers got Nix and Dominik on the line together using a conference call and listened in as the two men had a pretty frank discussion about their teams, NFL free agency and other topics for a few minutes — most notably Nix’s open questioning about what to do with Fitzpatrick, who was 19-31 in four years with the Bills.
In this case, it seems neither party knew the conversation was being recorded or gave consent. The Bills released a statement Tuesday saying they were looking into legal issues.
“We are aware of the report on Deadspin involving a phone conversation with Bills GM Buddy Nix. We have made the league aware of the report and are reviewing it with legal counsel,” the statement said.
Granted, everyone loves a good prank. It’s just difficult to imagine that two (supposedly) intelligent men with important jobs could be duped this way with just an old-fashioned phone call.
But if we’re gonna give advice here, the pranksters might wanna lawyer up. Soon.
As for Fitzpatrick, the former Harvard grad can now hit the unemployment line.