NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick said he wants to be the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback in 2020 rather than No. 5 overall 2020 NFL Draft pick Tua Tagovailoa.
Fitzpatrick, 37, has played 15 seasons for eight franchises during his NFL career. The Harvard graduate started 13 games for the Dolphins in 2019, and the AFC East franchise posted a 5-11 record, giving it the chance to pick Tagovailoa early in the draft.
“I’m as competitive as they come, so I want to go out there and start,” Fitzpatrick said last week. “I know there are a lot of forces that go into it from all kinds of different sides. Whether that happens or not, who knows?
“I know that in order for our team to be successful, whoever is playing from that quarterback room has to be successful — whether that’s me out there, doing everything I can to put the team in position to win, or whether that’s somebody else [like] Tua who is out there doing it.
“I’m going to do the best I can to help him to make sure our position is doing the things that are going to make our team win. That’s my mentality. That’s how I think about it. You know me very well, I think, from last year, and you know I want to be out there competing on Sundays.”
Fitzpatrick completed 62 percent of his throws for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. He also was sacked a career-high 40 times.
He signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins last off-season, less than a month after the team traded for former first-round pick Josh Rosen. Fitzpatrick won a training camp competition against Rosen to be named the team’s Week 1 starter.
Fitzpatrick has received praise by teammates and coaches for his leadership. He also has a good working relationship with Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. They worked together for a combined five years while with several different teams.
Fitzpatrick, the father of seven, has spent the off-season with his wife and family in Arizona as NFL facilities remain mostly closed and in-person activities are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fitzpatrick said he doesn’t throw much during the off-season, preferring to let his arm rest. He plans to ramp up activity once organized team activities begin.
Tagovailoa praised Fitzpatrick’s leadership and experience on draft night. He said he plans to ask him for advice about preparation and hopes to “learn under him.”
The former Alabama star said before the draft that he wouldn’t mind sitting behind a veteran quarterback.
“I want to be able to play as a competitor, but a lot of the guys that are really good and a lot of the greats have been mentored by big-time quarterbacks, veteran quarterbacks,” Tagovailoa said in February at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“If a team needs me to go out and start for them, I’ll do that. But if they need me to sit behind and learn from him [a veteran quarterback], I can’t see what’s wrong with that.”
Fitzpatrick said he is just going to be himself this off-season and wants to make sure younger players are comfortable enough to approach him with questions. He has been active in Zoom calls with teammates because Dolphins players weren’t allowed to meet physically like they had at this time in previous years.
“I’m excited for him to be here,” Fitzpatrick said of Tagovailoa. “I loved watching him play in college. I think he’s going to be an awesome addition to the team for a long time.”