Fitzpatrick, 33, is coming off a career season in which he threw for 3,905 yards and a franchise-record 31 TDs (with 15 interceptions). But that still wasn’t enough to convince the Jets to meet his contract demands until the start of training camp. But now it’s done.
"Oh my gosh … it’s been a long six months for sure," Fitzpatrick told the Daily News on Thursday. "The biggest feeling was relief. Just relief to have it over and done with.”
Fitzpatrick admitted it was a tough ordeal, and he praised his teammates for having his back.
"This whole process has been so long and hard and something I wouldn’t wish upon anybody, but if there’s a silver lining in it, at least for me, it’s the respect and support that those guys showed for me throughout the process," Fitzpatrick said. "It was huge. That’s why you play the game. You play the game for your teammates, who really want to play with and for you. That was big for me…. I felt like I had to get back for those guys."
Among the toughest moments, Fitzpatrick told the Daily News, is when the process became public.
"There was obviously that one period where they released some of the numbers on the contract. Then all the numbers came out. There was such a he said-she said back-and-forth going on. I didn’t really love that part of it."
Fitzpatrick and the Jets now can put the focus back on the field, where they will be trying to improve upon their 10-6 finish last season and return to the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season. For the record, Fitzpatrick never has played a down in the playoffs in his 11-season NFL career.