Ryan Fitzpatrick said Wednesday he was “shocked” that he lost his starting quarterback job and that his heart is broken by the Miami Dolphins’ decision to replace him with rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
“I was shocked by it,” Fitzpatrick said during a Zoom session with reporters, a day after Brian Flores told him the news. “Definitely caught me off guard and it was a hard thing for me to hear yesterday, digesting the news. My heart just hurt all day. It was heartbreaking for me.
“That’s the decision and the direction the organization is going in. We’ve talked in the past how I’m the placeholder and how this was eventually going to happen. A matter of when, not if. It broke my heart yesterday. Tough thing for me to hear.”
He said Flores called him to the coach’s office to break the news to him Tuesday.
“We talked; with everything last year and this year, he’s real upfront and honest,” Fitzpatrick said. “He likes to have those face-to-face conversations. That’s the decision that was made. Not a whole lot I can do about it than move forward and accept my new role and help the team win in that role.”
Fitzpatrick has no plans to retire during the season but admitted “there’s a lot of stuff going through my mind yesterday from a personal standpoint, not necessarily with the team. Is this it? Was that my last game as an NFL player, in terms of being a starter and going out there playing?
“I’ve been a starter, I’ve been benched all kinds of different ways, this one more [surprising] than any of them. This organization and what we’ve been through the last year and a half, this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo that I felt fully committed and invested and felt like it was my team. To have that, that’s a lot of the reason my heart was so heavy yesterday. That’s the direction the organization is going and I’ve just got to accept it.”
Fitzpatrick indicated he has not asked for a trade. “I don’t go in there and demand and ask for anything,” he said.
Has he had a chance to talk to Tagovailoa?
“We’ve talked,” Fitzpatrick said. “This profession is interesting in that I basically got fired yesterday and my day of work today consists of listening to the guy who fired me and locked in my spaced out room with my replacement today. Not a whole lot of jobs like that.
“I know how difficult it is to play the QB position and how important it is to have everyone pulling in the same direction. Once this thing starts up again, I’ve got to do my best for Tua to help him out. One [dynamic] is with Tua, and I want him to do well, think .... The other [dynamic] is my feeling and what I’m going through and that has to be separate from when I walk through this building. I have to separate those feelings and help him out the best I can.”
Asked if Sunday could end up being the last NFL game he plays in, Fitzpatrick said: “Those are just things running through my head. You never know in this league. To me, those conversations at this point aren’t even worth having. They’ve always been very supportive of me. They are in this journey together with me. It’s nice to have that kind of support. It’s hard in this day and age.”
Still, he bemoaned that “my boys in middle school don’t get to find out from dad” that their father lost his starting job. “They find out from a friend who got a text message. They probably dropped me from their fantasy team but they still love me.”
Flores was upset that the news of the quarterback switch leaked Tuesday before he had told anyone on the team except the quarterbacks.
Fitzpatrick 37, is in the final year of a two-year, $11 million contract. Could the idea of being a multiyear backup to Tagovailoa grow on him?
“Longterm future, I have no idea,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know that I just love playing this game, love being out there, the camaraderie. Dealing with adversity with your teammates. Those are the things I truly love about this game. I definitely enjoy playing more than sitting and watching.”
Fitzpatrick was benched after two lopsided losses to start last season - and replaced by Josh Rosen - but was reinserted as the starter in Game 6 and kept the job the remainder of the 2019 season. He said this benching feels different.
“Last year when Josh went in, it was a different situation,” Fitzpatrick said. “He was either going to sink or swim. This is a different situation. You draft a guy [Tagovailoa] fifth overall, this is a forever decision, a longterm decision.”
He reassured reporters, in closing, that “I’m always ready to go. I could probably come out of the stands and play in five years if I needed to without picking up a football.”