The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will head into 2018 with the same combination of quarterbacks they had in 2017. That depth chart was secured on Friday when the Buccaneers re-signed 14th-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to a new one-year deal.
Fitzpatrick rejoins Ryan Griffin as the backup options to fourth-year starter Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick and Griffin opened last year's training camp in a battle for the primary reserve spot – and perhaps the only other QB slot on the 53-man roster – but a shoulder injury suffered by the younger passer during the preseason rendered that competition moot. Griffin returned to the active roster in November and signed a contract extension for 2018 but Fitzpatrick remained in the number-two role and made three starts in Winston's place.
Just as they did a year ago, the Buccaneers place great value in Fitzpatrick's extensive starting experience. Over 13 seasons with seven teams, the Harvard product has played in 133 games and made 119 starts, including 27 starts over two seasons with the New York Jets before he joined the Buccaneers. Last season, a shoulder injury sidelined Winston for a stretch in the middle of the season and the Buccaneers went 2-1 in Fitzpatrick's three starts, beating the Jets and Miami in consecutive weeks.
Overall, Fitzpatrick played in six games for the Buccaneers last season, completing 96 of 163 passes (58.9%) for 1,103 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He had extensive relief performances in two other games in which Winston got hurt, but in his three starts he averaged 248.3 passing yards per game and threw a total of just one interception.
Prior his two seasons in New York and subsequent move to Tampa, Fitzpatrick played for the St. Louis Rams (2005-06), Cincinnati Bengals (2007-08), Buffalo Bills (2009-12), Tennessee Titans (2013) and Houston Texans (2014). He started eight or more games every year from 2008 through 2016, and as recently as 2015 he posted a 3,905-yard, 31-touchdown campaign. Overall, Fitzpatrick has completed 2,411 of his 4,039 passes for 26,991 yards, 173 touchdowns and 136 interceptions.