Just hours after private comments from Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix that were critical about Ryan Fitzpatrick surfaced on the internet, the Bills announced Tuesday afternoon that their starting quarterback was released.
A story appeared Tuesday morning on Deadspin.com about a prank phone call arranged between Nix and Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik that was taped without their knowledge or consent. The audio of the recording, which is also on Deadspin.com, captured Nix talking about Buffalo’s demand that Fitzpatrick accept a pay cut to remain on the roster.
“We’re still struggling here with our quarterback,” Nix said. “We’re not really struggling. (Fitzpatrick) is going to have to do something or we’ll have to.
“We just can’t afford to pay that kind of money for a guy who’s fighting for probably a backup job.”
The NFL is reportedly investigating the origins of the call and could work with law enforcement to press charges.
Fitzpatrick was signed to a six-year, $62 million contract extension midway through the 2011 season but failed to prove the difference-maker that Buffalo had hoped. The Bills recently re-signed reserve Tarvaris Jackson and said he would compete for a starting spot. Buffalo also is expected to target a quarterback early in April’s NFL Draft.
Although he has thrown 39 interceptions during the past two seasons, the 30-year old Fitzpatrick should still draw interest in what is a weak free-agent class of quarterbacks.
The Bills will carry $10 million in dead money on their salary cap with Fitzpatrick’s release. They did avoid paying a $3 million roster bonus that Fitzpatrick was due later this month.