Ryan Fitzpatrick's career has taken a long and winding road. Selected by the then-St. Louis Rams with the sixth-to-last pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick did not become a regular starter until Year 4, and even then it was only due to injury. He bounced around to several teams in the early-to-mid-2010s, alternately signing as a starter and a backup depending on the year.
Now, heading into the 17th season of his career, Fitzpatrick feels he has finally found his ideal landing spot.
"This is the best situation I've ever been in or the best situation that I've ever gone into as the guy," Fitzpatrick said during an appearance on the ESPN Daily podcast. "I signed to be the starter in Houston, I signed to be the starter in Miami, so this is now the third team that I've signed to come in and be the starter for. I just feel like the way that I'm playing the last four years, kind of the progression of my career, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense that 17 years in, physically, I feel great, mentally, emotionally, I'm in the right spot. I just think I am set up for success this year and really looking forward to it."
It's hard not to agree with him. Fitzpatrick is joining an offense coordinated by Scott Turner, whose system emphasizes both the types of short, quick, accurate passes Fitzpatrick has shown he can make and the types of downfield shots he loves to incorporate into his game. He's also got Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson among his main weapons, which makes for a dramatic upgrade over what he had heading into last season in Miami.
He's coming off of a strong season with the Dolphins, one where he was able to hold off Tua Tagovailoa longer than most expected due to his strong play. He also proved a valuable backup plan when the Dolphins needed to add some explosion to their offense late in the year. Now, he's heading into the season as the assumed starter for the first time in five-plus years.
"The other major point in my career when there was a transition was after my year in 2016 with the Jets, which was miserable and the first time in my life I hated football and just didn't want to play anymore," Fitzpatrick said on the podcast. "Since then, it's almost like I've been playing on borrowed time. The last four I've really been able to enjoy. Hopefully everybody has been able to see that for me on the field, from some of the goofy stuff and the interviews. My personality has really come out the last four."
It's sad to hear that Fitzpatrick didn't enjoy himself back in 2016, but he's certainly come out of his shell a bit more over the last several years. He's seemed at ease and comfortable with his skill set and his place in the league, and Washington is clearly comfortable with him under center this season.