TORONTO - DECEMBER 3: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills passes the ball during their NFL game against the New York Jets on December 3, 2009 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Bills 19-13. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Another AFC East team is now without a true starting quarterback.
The Bills announced shortly after the free-agency period began Tuesday afternoon that they have released Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been the starter in Buffalo since 2009. The Harvard grad would have been owed a $3 million bonus by the team had he remained under contract until Wednesday.
Fitzpatrick’s release comes just hours after a bizarre phone conversation between Bills general manager Buddy Nix and Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik surfaced on Deadspin. During the conference call — set up by a pair of prank callers — Nix touched on his signal caller’s struggles over the past few seasons, 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.
“We just can’t afford to pay that kind of money for a guy who’s fighting for probably a backup job,” he told Dominik.
Fitzpatrick, who completed 60.6 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last season, signed a six-year, $59 million contract extension with the Bills in October of 2011.
Tavaris Jackson is now the most experienced quarterback on the Buffalo roster. The team owns the eighth overall pick in April’s draft.