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Ryan Fitzpatrick 'excited for next opportunity'

Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler aren't the only borderline starting quarterbacks still in search of a job.

Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick told the New York Daily News early this week that he's working out and excited for his next opportunity.

"Once the draft happens," Fitzpatrick added, "the picture will become much clearer."

After breaking the Jets' single-season franchise record for touchdown passes in 2015, Fitzpatrick suffered through a disastrous 2016 campaign during which he twice lost his starting job.

Entering his mid-thirties, Fitzpatrick joined fellow veterans such as Cutler, Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger in mulling retirement earlier this offseason.

"Last year was the hardest year I've had," Fitzpatrick explained. "Last year was the most difficult year for me. Not physically, just kind of mentally and emotionally.

"I had to take a step back and think about it. Is this something I still want to do? Football is something so ingrained in me, something I love doing and definitely something I want to do. I still want to compete and I still think I can contribute whether I am in a starting role or whatever capacity."

While Kaepernick and Cutler enjoy a considerable talent edge on Fitzpatrick, the three quarterbacks have produced at similar levels in recent years.

Fitzpatrick has recorded a 59.5 completion percentage, 7.12 yards per attempt and 84.0 passer rating over the past three seasons. Those rates are in the same neighborhood as the 59.7, 6.86 and 85.9 generated by Kaepernick and the 64.2, 7.22 and 88.9 produced by Cutler.

In contrast to the other two veteran quarterbacks generating an endless stream of press this offseason, Fitzpatrick has publicly expressed a willingness to accept a backup role that typically comes with mentoring duties.

Once the April 27-29 draft is over, don't be surprised if Fitzpatrick ends up reuniting with Bill O'Brien in Houston. The Texans need an experienced quarterback, and Fitzpatrick's 95.3 passer rating under O'Brien in 2014 is easily the highest mark of his 12-year career.

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