Longtime NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick recently announced his retirement after 17 seasons in the league. Fitzpatrick became known for his ability to land a new contract rather than his talent at throwing the old pigskin. Fitzmagic earned over $82 million during his career NFL career. One that many would say was average at best. Still, he never really struggled to find nice paycheck after nice paycheck.
No one is saying Fitz hasn’t had his moments, but he hasn’t even made a Pro Bowl. Fitzpatrick never appeared in the postseason, not even in all 17 years in the NFL. Not once. He was never a Pro Bowl selection, even as a backup. But he managed to rake in over $80 million as an average talent. Compared to other similar QBs, Fitzpatrick fared very well on NFL earnings. Perhaps all hope is not lost for Baker Mayfield.
Take a QB like Tyrod Taylor from the New York Giants. He’s been in the league for a decade now and has had a pretty decent career. Taylor was a late pick (sixth round), like Fitzgerald (seventh), and he had more success than Fitzpatrick. Taylor worked on six teams prior to his 12th NFL season, similar to journeyman Fitzpatrick, who played for nine franchises. While Taylor has had more career success than Fitzpatrick, the gap in these players’ earned salaries isn’t as big.
Fitzpatrick’s $82 million dollars average a little over $4.8 million a year. Taylor’s earned salary is over $59 million in 11 years and averages around $5.4 million during that time. One player was a Pro Bowler and led a team to the playoffs, while the other did not make either. While the salaries are similar among these players, the opportunities on the field have not been as equal.
In his first 11 NFL seasons, Fitzpatrick accumulated 105 starts under center. On the other hand, Taylor has started 53 games for NFL teams in the same number of years. Sure, you could say that Taylor was paid more for less work. But one can also argue that Fitzpatrick got twice as many chances to show less and still made as much money on average as Taylor.
It’s no secret that black NFL QBs have always had to work harder to earn the same recognition and recognition as their white counterparts. And I would even say that Taylor is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to some other black QBs. Unless you’re a celebrity like Lamar Jackson, Michael Vick, Cam Newton, or Russell Wilson, you don’t usually stay average to above-average for long. Years ago, Rodney Peete and Charlie Batch were the exceptions for Black QBs.
While players like Vince Young, Daunte Culpepper and Robert Griffin III had some success, they didn’t last very long as their talents waned. All three made at least one Pro Bowl and at least one playoff appearance. young and Gripping even won the Rookie of the Year award. Now everyone has their own reasons, and sometimes injury was involved, but other than that, the league isn’t looking for older black QBs at any given point.
Meanwhile Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Jeff Georges of the world are allowed to play forever and are hardly decent. David Carr extended his career to 10 years when it probably should have ended after five. And this list of mediocre white QBs with notable careers goes on and on. Church cousins feels like another one that was already a decade ago and will probably last another half decade, at least as average as it wants to be.
As for Mr. Fitzpatrick, I wouldn’t say it’s been a great career; I would call it luck. He was in the middle most of the time, but he was consistent. He can excite you at times, but more often you get frustrated when you happen to root for one of the teams he leads. One thing is for sure. Being an average white QB in the NFL can pay really well for a long time.