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Buccaneers Add Ryan Fitzpatrick

Posted May 19, 2017

Tampa Bay has landed an experienced backup for Jameis Winston, agreeing to terms with 13th-year veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has started 116 NFL games.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to terms on a contract with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, providing Jameis Winston with an experienced veteran backup. To make room on the 90-man offseason roster, the Buccaneers have waived quarterback Sean Renfree.

Fitzpatrick has played 12 years in the NFL and logged 116 starts, including 27 over the past two years with the New York Jets. His career totals include 25,888 passing yards, 166 touchdown passes and a 79.7 passer rating. In 2015, he started all 16 games for the Jets and piled up 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns against 15 interceptions while leading New York to a 10-6 record. The previous year, Fitzpatrick set a single-season career high with a 95.3 passer rating while starting 12 games for the Houston Texans.

Fitzpatrick has also played for the St. Louis Rams (2005-06), the Cincinnati Bengals (2008), the Buffalo Bills (2009-12) and the Tennessee Titans (2013). The Harvard product first entered the league as a seventh-round draft pick of the Rams in 2005. Since 2010, he has started 93 games, and in that span he ranks 13th in the NFL in passing yards (21,784) and 11th in touchdown tosses (145).

Winston, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, has started all 32 Buccaneers games since his arrival, throwing for 8,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. He was backed up those two seasons by Mike Glennon, who signed with Chicago to be the Bears' new starter in March. Prior to the addition of Fitzpatrick, the rest of the Bucs' QB depth chart was filled out by Renfree, Ryan Griffin and undrafted rookie Sefo Liufau, none of whom has started a regular-season NFL game.

After playing sparingly in his first three seasons, Fitzpatrick got his first extended opportunity to start with the Bengals in 2008. In 12 starts, he completed 59.4% of his passes for 1,905 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. He became a free agent following the season and signed a three-year deal with the Bills, where he took over as the starter for an injured Trent Edwards at midseason. Fitzpatrick held onto that job for the rest of that season and the three that followed, posting three consecutive 3,000-yard campaigns from 2010-12.

The signing of Fitzpatrick is another indication that the Buccaneers expect to be serious playoff contenders in 2017. The front office sought to give Winston a greater array of explosive targets during the offseason, adding free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson and drafting tight end O.J. Howard in the first round and wide receiver Chris Godwin in the third round. Winston has obviously been very durable during his first two years in the league and the Bucs hope he's about to embark on another 16-start season. However, they've now added experienced insurance in case Winston does have to miss some playing time.