The top hat and rabbit can rest. FitzMagic is calling it a career.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is retiring after 17 NFL seasons, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday. Fitzpatrick is in talks with Prime Video for a key role in Amazon's NFL coverage this season, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added.
Fitzpatrick's NFL journey was as unlikely as it was thrilling. The Harvard product entered the league as a seventh-round pick (250th overall) of the St. Louis Rams in 2005, the last quarterback selected in that draft. What followed was a trying, but magical career filled with uniform changes -- he started at least one game for nine different NFL teams, the most by any player since at least 1950 -- and heart-stopping moments.
There was Fitzpatrick's showdown with Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger on Monday Night Football in 2018, a game in which Fitzpatrick completed 30 of 50 passes for 411 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, and threw for 430-plus yards for a second straight week. The aerial assault captivated the football viewing nation, but as was the case for much of Fitzpatrick's career, it ended in a 30-27 defeat. In 2015, Fitzpatrick nearly led the New York Jets to an unlikely playoff berth in their first season under coach Todd Bowles, but after winning five straight games between Weeks 12-16, the Jets fell just short of the postseason, losing to Buffalo 22-17 in Week 17.
And there was, of course, the legendary 2018 postgame presser in which Fitzpatrick wore teammate DeSean Jackson's track suit, complete with a gold chains and a pair of aviator sunglasses.
Fitzpatrick didn't compile a Hall of Fame career, but he certainly made it worth watching, both on and off the field. Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to 62 different players in his career, coming in behind a trio of passers (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Vinny Testaverde) who have thrown a touchdown pass to more than 62 different players in NFL history. He became known for authoring thrilling finishes, no matter for which team he was playing, and the lone disappointment came with the territory he didn't reach: the postseason. Fitzpatrick's 34,990 passing yards are the most in NFL history by a player who never played in a playoff game, and stand as the 32nd most in league history.
Still, considering where he began, Fitzpatrick outperformed his odds by a wide margin. He owns the most career passing yards among all quarterbacks drafted in the seventh round of later in the common draft era, outperforming 1977 10th-rounder Steve DeBerg by 749 yards and standing well ahead of Super Bowl XXXVII champion Brad Johnson. Fitzpatrick is the only quarterback in NFL history to win a game with seven or more different teams (Miami, Tampa Bay, New York Jets, Buffalo, Houston, Cincinnati, Tennessee). He also is tied for the seventh-most career seasons by a quarterback since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, trailing only Brady, Testaverde, Brett Favre, Dave Krieg and Ben Roethlisberger, and he's one of only 30 quarterbacks in NFL history with 34,000-plus passing yards and 220-plus passing touchdowns in a career.
Fitzpatrick first saw the field as a result of an injury to Rams starter Marc Bulger and appeared in four games (three starts) in 2005, going 0-3 as a starter. He didn't throw a pass in a game for the next two seasons, continuing a pedestrian career typical of a late selection, but 2008 is when things started to change for Fitzpatrick.
St. Louis traded Fitzpatrick to Cincinnati for a seventh-round pick in 2007, and the quarterback ended up starting 12 games for the Bengals in place of the injured Carson Palmer. He went 4-7-1 as a starter and impressed other NFL clubs enough to earn a three-year deal with the Buffalo Bills in 2009. Another injury to a starter -- this time, Trent Edwards -- opened the door for Fitzpatrick to prove his worth, and by the 2011 season, Fitzpatrick had done enough to earn the starting job in Buffalo for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Thus became the theme for Fitzpatrick's career: Sign with a team, battle for a roster spot and eventually find his way to the field due to an injury to a starter. It happened in Tennessee in 2013 and Houston in 2014. In 2015, Fitzpatrick found some stability with the New York Jets (due in part to a locker room altercation that forced Geno Smith out of action), keying an exciting season that nearly saw New York reach the postseason. He remained for one more season before moving to Tampa, where he replaced injured starter Jameis Winston in six games (three starts) in 2017 and appeared in eight games (seven starts) in 2018, posting a 24-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio between 2017 and 2018.
Fitzpatrick rarely joined a team with firm footing as the top option under center, but in 2019, his move to Miami saw him serve as the starter for all but three games. He nearly led Miami to an unlikely playoff appearance a year later, beginning the season as the starter before Miami forced rookie Tua Tagovailoa into action following the team's bye week. Left to watch on the bench, Fitzpatrick suddenly heard his number called in a moment of desperation in a Week 16 game at Las Vegas.
Fitzpatrick promptly entered the game and found himself facing a do-or-die fourth down situation. He dropped to pass and heaved a prayer as the Raiders' Arden Key delivered a blow to Fitzpatrick's facemask, buying the Dolphins a fresh set of downs via a roughing the passer penalty with just enough time for two more plays. Jason Sanders' 44-yard field goal sent the Dolphins to a win.
Fitzpatrick moved onto Washington in 2021, where he was named the starter but lasted less than one game. A partially dislocated hip forced him out of action in Week 1 and effectively spelled the end of his career.
At 39 years old, Fitzpatrick is walking away from a lengthy career he shared with hundreds of teammates he befriended along his winding journey. The Harvard product was never supposed to last this long. He can walk away from the game satisfied with the remarkable achievement that was his NFL voyage – and begin preparations for his transition to broadcasting.