Ryan Fitzpatrick is planning to be the Miami Dolphins 2019 starting quarterback, and that opportunity to start was enough for him to pick a rebuilding team over other situations with comparable money.
"The way that I view this is there's 32 of these starting gigs in the NFL, and this is one of them. The opportunity to be one of those 32 guys is an amazing privilege and honor," Fitzpatrick said. "When they approached me about signing on, I was so excited about the chance to get on the field and play."
The Dolphins were the last NFL team with a clear starting gig available after they traded Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee and free agent Teddy Bridgewater chose to return to New Orleans over an offer from Miami last week. Fitzpatrick's other opportunities, he said, were with teams with "penciled-in starters."
Fitzpatrick, 36, knows he's on the back end of his career, and that's what makes this opportunity even sweeter. The idea of the Dolphins rebuilding didn't seem to bother him, and he said he had several conversations with the Dolphins about the fluidity of their quarterback situation.
Miami is expected to examine drafting its franchise quarterback in the 2019 or 2020 NFL draft. They have the 13th overall pick in next month's draft and have already been stockpiling picks in 2020 in case they need to trade up to get one of the top-tier talents in that crop, which could include Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Georgia's Jake Fromm.
Fitzpatrick didn't seem to be phased by the possibility that the Dolphins selecting a quarterback high in the 2019 draft could jeopardize his starting job.
"We'll see what happens. I know that this is the NFL, which means that nothing is promised," Fitzpatrick said. "There are things that come up and happen all of the time. I just felt like it was a great opportunity for, me and again, I've pretty much been in all of the different situations you can think of or imagine."
"I'm going to come in from Day 1 and act like and be the starting quarterback for this organization until they tell me that I'm not."
Fitzpatrick has played 14 NFL seasons on seven teams accumulating 126 starts (50-75-1 record). He was most recently with Tampa Bay for the past two seasons. He's become known for his 'FitzMagic' nickname and strong beard, which he promised will be in "full effect" even in the South Florida heat.
In 2018, Fitzpatrick became the first QB in NFL history to throw for 400-plus yards in the first three games of a season. He finished the season completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,366 yards, 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in eight games (seven starts). He's a gunslinger -- evident by his NFL-best 9.6 yards per attempt last season -- with a history of being hot and cold throughout a season and even within games.
Fitzpatrick said his keys for being a mentor for a young quarterback include "being myself" and "not have an ego."