Ryan Fitzpatrick knew when Chan Gailey was fired by the Bills that he too would be shuffling off from Buffalo.
Fitzpatrick, who signed a six-year, $59 million deal with the Bills in 2011, was released at the start of free agency. Needing a new job, Fitzpatrick used the opportunity of the NFL owners meeting last week near his home in Phoenix to begin fielding offers.
With the Titans suddenly finding themselves in need of a quarterback after being unable to reach a reworked deal with Matt Hasselbeck, Fitzpatrick met with general manager Ruston Webster and Coach Mike Munchak.
“It was a nice coincidence for me to be able to go out there to the hotel in Phoenix and meet with a few teams. I didn't have to get on an airplane. That was nice to be able to sit down with a few teams and to feel wanted and they respect the work that you do in the last few years. For me, it's a new start,” Fitzpatrick said.
A new start for Fitzpatrick meant choosing Tennessee sight unseen, where he will back up Jake Locker, rather than going back to Cincinnati, where he played in 2007-08.
“I had a few options. I was looking at a few different options. Once everything materialized in Buffalo the way that it did – obviously I wasn't going to be playing there anymore -I wanted to find a nice role for me to come in and more than likely help a young guy,” Fitzpatrick said. “I thought that would be something that was important to look for and for me a great opportunity to come in. For me, (it's) a great opportunity to come in and help Jake. I don't know Jake at all, but I want to be there for him and be ready to play if anything happens.”
Fitzpatrick, who started for the Bills since 2010, threw for 3,800 yards with 24 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last year.
Fitzpatrick admits that being a backup again will be an adjustment for him.
“That was a tough deal to go through, being there for four years. I've got family with four kids, so to lay our roots there, to be a part of that community and that team, so with Chan Gailey, the head guy there, getting fired, I knew we kind of went hand-in-hand,” he said. “I thought we had made some progress, not necessarily in the record, but you want to build a place and finish what you started, and we weren't able to do that. But that's what happens in this league. You move on and you find another opportunity and another great spot, and that's what I'm looking for here.”