Ryan Fitzpatrick knows a unique situation awaits with the Miami Dolphins during the 2020 season.
Fitzpatrick, 37, is healthy. He had one of the best, and most fulfilling seasons of his 16-year ride with eight different teams a season ago. And his desire to play and pass along knowledge to teammates continues to inspire him at this stage of his career.
Fitzpatrick knows he will have to surrender the reins of Miami’s starting quarterback job to new Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at some point.
Fitzpatrick just hopes he can fend off Tagovailoa long enough to play a few more snaps along the way.
Fitzpatrick, who joined his former Buffalo Bills teammate on the “What’s Next with Eric Wood” podcast this week, says he is eager to work with Tagovailoa, and help the Dolphins build on the success they had toward the end of their 5-11 season last year.
“I’m excited. I’m excited that they drafted him,” Fitzpatrick said of Tagovailoa. “I’m excited because I watched him play at Alabama and he looks like he’s a pretty dynamic talent. Just in meeting him a few times, he seems like an unbelievable kid with a great head on his shoulders. He says the right things, wants to do the right things.
“So, for me, I’m his biggest cheerleader right now, but I also want to be out there playing,” Fitzpatrick added.
“I also want to be on the field, and that’s why I’m still doing it is because I still enjoy playing the game. Hopefully some of the lessons I’m able to teach him are him watching me play if, but if it’s the other way around I’m going to do my best to help him succeed the best way he can.”
Fitzpatrick, who beat out Josh Rosen to be Miami’s starter for 13 of 15 games last season, will have an opportunity to compete for the Dolphins’ starting job again in 2020.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores and general manger Chris Grier were non-committal about how soon Tagovailoa, their first-round pick in April’s NFL draft, would see the field as a rookie.
Tagovailoa, who continues to recover from a hip dislocation and posterior wall fracture he suffered last November, is also eager to get to work with hopes of competing in training camp and playing this season.
Like Fitzpatrick did with Rosen under his tutelage last season, he hopes Tagovailoa is also receptive to any advice he wishes to seek from the longtime NFL veteran.
Fitzpatrick wants Tagovailoa to know: “I am here. Again, zero ego. I have so much knowledge. I’ve made so many mistakes in this league in terms of dumb decisions and throws. I’ve learned how to prepare. I’ve learned so much about offenses and defenses, and the way guys operate.”
“Ask questions. I’m an open book. Ask me whatever you want,” Fitzpatrick added.
How long Fitzpatrick plans to keep playing was also a natural topic of discussion on the podcast.
Fitzpatrick said he has thought about whether to retire every season since his final season with the New York Jets in 2016.
After two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick said he still had “this burning desire to play.”
With the Dolphins last season, Fitzpatrick said it “may have been my best season in terms of all the obstacles we faced, the adversity, the things that we went through throughout the season, and what we did at the tail end of the season.”
“I view last year as such a success for the Miami organization in what we were able to do and prove throughout that season, and the last game of the year, beating New England in a must-win for them in Foxborough. To me, that was such a successful season and one that I’m so proud of,” Fitzpatrick said.
“But it just leaves me wanting more. I want to still play. I want to still be out there.”
Fitzpatrick says since breaking his leg in 2014, he has not sustained any major injuries, including concussions.
When he does retire, Fitzpatrick says he hopes health will not be a factor in the ultimate decision.
“Like physically, I feel great,” he said. I broke my leg and have a rod in my leg in 2014, and that’s really the only major injury that I’ve had. And I wake up every day and I feel good. I haven’t had any issues with my head or anything. So that won’t be the thing that makes me shut it down because I still feel good.
“I still feel young — even though I’m 37 and apparently the only player 30-plus-year-old guy on Miami’s roster, which is crazy,” he added. “Yeah, I still feel great.”