Multiple sources are confirming that the Titans and Bengals appear to be the first teams to bring in recently released QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. While many immediately assumed this was a ploy by the Titans to increase leverage with Matt Hasselbeck to reduce his cap number as much as possible, my bet is that Webster and Munch's intentions aren't quite so cynical.
I think their interest in Fitzpatrick as a back-up is sincere, for the right price.
Despite being horribly overpaid thanks to a foolish $59 million contract the Bills jettisoned just 15-months after the ink was dry, Fitzpatrick did post three seasons with 3,000+ yards and 23+ touchdowns and has been very durable in his five NFL seasons as a primary starter. He's one of the smartest players in the NFL, and not just because he graduated from Harvard or dominated the Wonderlic. Fitz is also an underrated runner when he needs to be, which would help him play in a system designed to take advantage of Locker's skills rolling out.
Sounds like a pretty good veteran back-up to me.
Hasselbeck was outright awful for most of his starts last year. His only strong stat was completion percentage, but that was undercut by an awful 6.19 yards per completion. He's massively overpaid, and at age 37, a risky proposition as a back-up should Locker get hurt again this year.
As for Rusty, I like him a lot more than I used to, but he's been inactive for most of his career since that atrocity down in Houston his rookie year. I'd love to see him get a shot, but if the coaches who have watched him practice every day don't feel good about banking on him as the no.2 option, I can't begrudge them that.
There are a lot of coaches and front office folks who have their jobs on the line this year, and most of them don't have the established track record of success in their current positions it would take to land in the same job somewhere else next year: If this all breaks bad next year Webster won't be a GM somewhere else and Munch won't be a head coach in the NFL for a while.
With those kinds of stakes on the line, and Bud giving them the green light to spend aggressively, Fitzpatrick makes more sense than any other options I've seen out there so far. He'll have to come in for around $4 million per year on a short contract, but considering that we would save between $5-$6 million by cutting Hasselbeck, it looks like a good move to me.