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Ryan Fitzpatrick retires from NFL: Ranking FitzMagic's nine most memorable stops

The long, winding journey of one of the most charismatic NFL characters came to an end when Ryan Fitzpatrick retired Thursday after 17 seasons.

Despite never earning a Pro Bowl nod or playing in a postseason game, the man known as FitzMagic walks away as one of the most memorable players in recent NFL history. His flair off the field, exemplified by a bushy, often unkempt beard, was matched only by the helter-skelter style he sported on it.

Magic or tragic, the Ryan Fitzpatrick experience.

Nomads do less journeying than FitzMagic did during his 17 seasons in the NFL, during which he played for nine teams after being drafted in the seventh round by St. Louis in 2005. If you're unaware, Fitzpatrick went to Harvard.

From St. Louis to Cincinnati to Buffalo to Tennessee to Houston to New York to Tampa Bay to Miami and, finally, to Washington, Fitzpatrick always found his way onto the field -- and most times, into the hearts of fans. The man with his own cycle was fascinating to follow at every stop.

No other player since at least 1950 has started at least one game for nine different NFL teams, and he's the only quarterback in NFL history to win at least one game with seven teams.

Fitzpatrick's swashbuckler style and gunslinging mentality had him living on the edge on the field. He made some of the most ridiculous throws imaginable, and sometimes, that mentality bit him in the rear. For 17 years, no one could criticize the QB for not giving his all on the field and battling with every ounce his talent provided.

At 39 years old, one of the most entertaining gridiron performers has reached the end of the road. Let's remember those nine stops on the journey, ranking the most memorable as we go.

Washington Football Team - logo
Washington Football Team

The end was the most forgettable for the FitzMagic Brand. He signed in D.C. as the starter in 2021, but Fitzpatrick lasted just six pass attempts before a dislocated hip forced him out for the season and ultimately ended his career.

After Jake Locker went down with injury, Fitzpatrick once again became the starter. Outside of an impressive 402-yard, four-TD loss to Arizona, Tennessee wasn't one of Fitzpatrick's most memorable runs.

Fitzpatrick began his lone season in Houston as the starter before being benched in favor of Ryan Mallett. But the FitzMagic cycle wasn't done. Fitzy regained the starting gig after Mallett tore a pectoral muscle, and Fitzpatrick went on to throw for a franchise-record six touchdowns and 358 yards with zero interceptions against his former Titans team. Two weeks later, however, he broke his foot scrambling, ending Fitz's time in Houston.

St. Louis Rams

The last of 14 QBs drafted in 2005, Fitzpatrick won the third-string duties as a rookie for the then-St. Louis Rams. After injuries to Marc Bulger and Jamie Martin, Fitzpatrick got his first action in relief in Week 11, tossing for 310 yards and 3 TDs as the Rams stormed back from a 24-3 halftime deficit to beat the Texans in overtime. He won NFC Player of the Week honors for his heroics. Fitzy started the next three games but struggled after his sensational outing -- as rookies often do. He appeared in just one game in 2006 before being traded to Cincinnati in 2007.  

Cincinnati Bengals

Injuries thrust Fitzpatrick into the starting role in Cincy in 2008 after he sat behind Carson Palmer in 2007. Starting the final 11 games, Fitzpatrick displayed an ability to run, gobbling up 304 rushing yards, a career high. In Cincy, the first signs of Fitzpatrick's gritty do-whatever-it-takes moxie began to show.

Miami Dolphins

After reviving his FitzMagic persona in Tampa, the QB took his talents to Miami, where he was named the starter over Josh Rosen in 2019. Though clearly the better player, Fitzpatrick split time with Rosen early in the season. FitzMagic helped carry a rebuilding Dolphins team to five wins, while throwing for 3,529 yards and 20 TDs. Controversy followed in 2020 after a 3-3 start. Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Later, Fitzpatrick returned in the fourth quarter of Week 16 after Tua was benched in a pivotal game against the Raiders. He proceeded to put on one of the most FitzMagicy displays ever, leading the Dolphins back to a last-second win to keep postseason hopes alive. 

But fate dealt another poor hand, as Fitzpatrick was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list for Week 17, and Miami got thumped by Buffalo to miss the postseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Most Zoomers might well remember Fitzpatrick as a Buccaneer even though he only started 10 games in two seasons in Tampa. A picture of the QB sporting DeSean Jackson's chains at his post-game presser following a big game should be enshrined in Canton.

Fitzpatrick was brought to Tampa as the backup to Jameis Winston, but, like he always did, Fitz got on the field following an injury and proceeded to force a brief QB controversy. In Tampa, Fitzpatrick won the locker room with his never-say-die mentality and showmanship.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo wasn't his first stop, but it's where Fitzpatrick came to fame. A backup to Trent Edwards before eventually taking over the job, Fitzpatrick's quick trigger and ability to sling it were the ideal fit for Chan Gailey, who took over as head coach in 2010. Who could forget Fitzpatrick chucking the ball all over the park after taking over the starting gig? His connection with Stevie Johnson during those Buffalo days was a low-key hot pairing. The Bills might not have won a ton, but their offense was entertaining, with FitzMagic, Johnson, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Buffalo also marked Fitzpatrick's first big payday: a six-year, $59 million deal signed midway through 2011. However, it went south, and he lasted just one more season before he was released following Gailey's firing.

New York Jets

Gang Green got the full FitzMagic experience. Signed as a backup before the 2015 season, the QB was thrust into the starting role after Geno Smith got cold-cocked by teammate IK Enemkpali. Of course, from there, Fitzpatrick went on to have the best season of his career, racking up 3,905 yards and 31 TDs, breaking Vinny Testaverde's franchise record. At home in coordinator Chan Gailey's offense and teaming with Brandon Marshall, Fitzpatrick made the Jets wildly entertaining in Todd Bowles' first season as head coach. As Fitzy's career has gone, however, the season ended in a lousy three-interception fourth-quarter in a loss to the Bills that kept the 10-6 Jets out of the playoffs. The Jets re-upped with Fitzpatrick in 2016 but never recaptured the magic before his inevitable benching.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter.

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