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Should The Los Angeles Rams Target Ryan Fitzpatrick In Free Agency?

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The St. Louis Rams drafted Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005. Is it time they bring him back?

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With the 250th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  At the time, the selection was a move to add depth behind starter Marc Bulger and backup Jamie Martin.

In his final season at Harvard, Fitzpatrick lead Harvard to a 10-0 record, and won Ivy League MVP honors.  His stats [1,986 yards, 13 TD’s/6 INT's] were nothing stellar, but they got the job done.  Prior to the draft, you’ll remember, Fitzpatrick scored a 48 [out of 50] on the Wonderlic; the highest score ever achieved amongst NFL quarterbacks.

After an unfruitful two-year stint with the Rams, the journeyman QB would go on to play for the Bengals, Bills, Titans, and Texans before eventually landing in New York where he started all 16 games for the Jets.  Fitzpatrick had a very solid 2015 campaign, passing for 3,905 yards, with 31 touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions.

Current day, eleven years after being drafted by the Rams, Fitzpatrick, is now a 33 year old free agent.  And, given the dire need the Rams have for a quarterback, his name has emerged as a potential target.  With Kirk Cousins getting the franchise tag, and Sam Bradford signing a two-year deal with the Eagles, Fitzpatrick and Broncos’ quarterback Brock Osweiler are now the cream of the crop for free agent QB’s.  That is, at least, until the Redskins or 49ers decide when/if they’re moving on from Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.

Over at Pro Football Focus, they noted six teams who could potentially use the service of Fitzpatrick. It comes as no surprise that the Rams made that list.

The Rams have arguably the biggest need at quarterback, after Nick Foles (54.3) had the second-lowest NFL passer rating in 2015, at 69.0. When Foles was not under pressure, he wasn’t making as many mistakes as he was while under pressure, but still only averaged 6.5 yards per attempt. At the moment, Case Keenum (69.4) is the better option. He was much better than Foles without pressure (NFL QB rating of 102.2), but was worse when he was under pressure, with a passer rating of 51.7. Fitzgerald at his best is better than Keenum at his best, and the Rams have plenty of cap space to over-spend at quarterback if they want to.


As for having "plenty of cap space," I suppose PFF isn't inaccurate.  The Rams do currently have just over $45M in cap space; 9th most in the NFL.  But they’ve also got work to do with a slew of their own free agents, all while potentially locking up other outside FA’s and the 2016 draft class.

According to Spotrac’s Market Value estimator, Fitz would look to be getting a deal somewhere in the ballpark of 3 years, $33M [$11M average].  For the sake of reference, they’ve got Osweiler pegged at 4 years, $41M [$10.2M average].  Not particularly inexpensive options either way.

As for Fitzpatrick’s strong outing in 2015, much credit should [also] be given to the surrounding talent.  Chris Ivory was the league’s 5th highest rusher, finishing the season with 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns.  His wideouts - Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker - combined for 189 receptions, 2,529 yards, and 26 touchdowns.  Twenty six.

The Rams have the strong running game part on lock, thanks to Todd Gurley.  But a duo of wide receivers like the Jets have in New York? Not hardly.