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Fitzpatrick, Bills still apart in contract talks

By Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange
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By Len Pasquarelli

It's been nearly a month since media reports that the Buffalo Bills had entered into early negotiations with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on a possible contract extension. There's no deal yet, and it appears that the two sides still have considerable work to do to consummate an add-on to the contract.

"We're talking, and I think that we are all hopeful, and there's mutual interest ... but we're certainly not close to anything yet," agent Jimmy Sexton told The Sports Xchange this week. "I wouldn't say we're not getting anywhere, but it's slow right now."

The 28-year-old Fitzpatrick, who is coming off a career season in 2010, is in the final year of the three-year, $6.9 million contract he signed with the Bills as a free agent in 2009. The seventh-year veteran, arguably the least-known 3,000-yard passer in the league last season, will earn a base salary of $3.195 million for 2011.

That might seem like a lot of money for a guy who began his career in St. Louis as a fairly forgettable seventh-round draft pick from Harvard in 2005, and who probably is viewed by some as a journeyman, but there aren't many starters in the NFL cashing as little. And there aren't many starting quarterbacks who ever make it to unrestricted free agency, either, so Fitzpatrick would be a rarity if he didn't finish an extension and went on the market.

Given the dearth of quality starters in the league, and the ascending regard in which the self-deprecating Fitzpatrick is held, he'll also be in demand. The Bills, who didn't take a quarterback in the draft this year, as some assumed they would, really don't have a fallback guy for the future, so it's critical that they get a deal with Fitzpatrick, who definitely has flourished under coach Chan Gailey.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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