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Titans Agree to Terms with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Posted Mar 18, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans switched backup quarterbacks all in the span of a few hours, going from veteran Matt Hasselbeck to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Titans GM Ruston Webster confirmed Tuesday that the Titans have agreed to terms with Fitzpatrick, the former Buffalo Bills quarterback.

Webster said the deal will not be official until Fitzpatrick passes his physical with the Titans.

ESPN.com first reported the deal on Monday.

Former Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) will join his former teammate, guard Andy Levitre (67), in Tennessee to back up Titans QB Jake Locker.

The move came hours after Hasselbeck, 37, was released Monday because of his $5.5 million contract and a $7.5 million salary cap hit. Fitzpatrick, 30, was released the day free agency opened, a day before the team was due to pay him a $3 million bonus.

The Bills made the decision to cut Fitzpatrick after failing to get the quarterback to restructure the five years left on the six-year, $59 million contract he signed in October 2011.

Webster told Pro Football Talk Live on Tuesday that the Titans tried to work something out with Hasselbeck, but weren't able to agree on terms and both sides mutually agreed to part ways.

"Initially when Matt came to Tennessee he was going to be the starter and things have changed. Jake Locker is our starter," Webster said. "We tried to work something out with Matt and weren't able to do that. It was kind of a mutual (decision) between both of us and we let him go. I've known Matt a long time. I was in Seattle with Matt and I'm fairly close to him. We just felt like it was best for both parties.

"We're happy to get Ryan Fitzpatrick. We've agreed to terms, but it won't be official until we get the physical on him. He'll do a great job in that role as a backup to Jake Locker."

The Titans spent the eighth selection overall on Locker in the 2011 draft on Locker and tabbed him the starter last August.

Fitzpatrick, 30, spent four seasons in Buffalo, and most of the past three as the Bills starter. He finished with a 20-33 record, and took part of the blame for the team's three consecutive losing seasons.

He was mostly knocked for failing to shed his inconsistencies. Though Fitzpatrick finished with 80 touchdowns in 55 games with the Bills, he also threw 64 interceptions, including a career-worst 23 in 2011.

Fitzpatrick has proven to be a more than capable backup during his eight-year career. That's exactly what the Titans now need for Locker, who will be going into his third season with former Buffalo guard Andy Levitre, signed last week, helping protect him.

Fitzpatrick will be the third Bills player to join the Titans with safety George Wilson signing his deal in late February.

Selected by St. Louis in the seventh round of the 2005 draft out of Harvard, Fitzpatrick spent two seasons with the Rams. He then signed with Cincinnati, where he got his first true shot at starting experience in 2008. Fitzpatrick went 4-6-1 as a starter with the Bengals, in taking over after Carson Palmer sustained a season-ending elbow injury.

Hasselbeck spent the past two seasons with Tennessee, leading the Titans to a 9-7 record and just missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker in 2011 in coach Mike Munchak's debut season coming off the NFL lockout. Hasselbeck threw for 3,571 yards, the fourth-best passing season in the team's history and the third highest of his career.

Even after Locker became the starter, Hasselbeck still started five straight games after Locker hurt his left shoulder and played in eight overall. He threw for 1,367 yards with seven touchdowns.

The 14-year veteran has 34,517 yards passing for his career with 201 touchdowns. Due to count $7.5 million against the salary cap made him too pricey to keep for a team still needing help on the defensive line and at linebacker.

Webster thanked Hasselbeck for the past two years.

"He was an important part of the transition process,'' Webster said. "He was a pro at every turn, and he provided an example to the rest of the team. I know that we are a better team for his being here and we wish him the best.''

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