What Release of Ryan Fitzpatrick Means for Buffalo Bills 2013 Offseason Strategy

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMarch 12, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 23: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills throws the ball prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins on December 23, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 24-10. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Well, that didn't take long. 

Just minutes after the free agency period opened on Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills announced they had released starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The news came hours after a phone call surfaced on Deadspin between Bills GM Buddy Nix and Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik.

During the call, Nix was heard saying, "We're still struggling here with our quarterback...We're not really struggling--he's going to have to do something, or we'll have to."

He added: "We just can't afford to pay that kind of money for a guy who's fighting for probably a backup job."

Fitzpatrick's descent from a solid starter to a disastrous contract was as quick as the pen with which he signed the dotted line on his six-year, $59 million extension during the 2011 season. From that point on, Fitzpatrick was never the same. 

The Bills were not slated to get much back from releasing Fitzpatrick; of his $10.45 million salary for 2013, $10 million is dead money. By releasing him today, though, the Bills can make him a post-June 1 designation, which would allow them to spread his cap hit out over two years instead of absorbing it all at once (according to BuffaloBills.com).

The Bills re-signed backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson earlier in the offseason. Jackson was told that he would be competing for the starting quarterback job, presumably with Fitzpatrick. Now, he's competing with Aaron Corp. Name doesn't ring a bell? Not for me, either.

If the Bills weren't considered in the market to draft a quarterback of the future before, they surely are now. However, they surely were before, as Buddy Nix made no bones about iterating and reiterating his desire to find said quarterback this offseason. Releasing last year's starter all but guarantees they will be targeting a quarterback come April.

There has already been a lot of dot-connecting with Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, but the Bills could still get lucky if West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith falls to them at No. 8. Perhaps they look at the quarterback class as deeper than top-heavy, like most draft pundits do, which would lead them to grabbing a quarterback at the end of the first round or the beginning of the second round.

No matter what happens, a team that had a lot of question marks headed into 2013 has found a few more question marks early on in the free agency period, and they still haven't even signed anyone yet.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.