By design, that post only took a look at half of the picture: the half in which the Bills wait to talk contract with Fitzpatrick and he starts the 2011 season the way he started his run in 2010, putting up big numbers. In that scenario, the Bills would likely try to lock him up to a longer-term deal after a hot start - it's something the organization has done before.
There's also a shorter-term, slightly cheaper annually option that the team could explore in a couple of different scenarios: one in which they talk contract with Fitzpatrick before the 2011 season (obviously after the lockout is lifted), or more likely, after a so-so 16-game run from Fitzpatrick next year. There are a couple of deals that would serve as guidelines for that type of situation, as well.
- Jake Delhomme's two-year, $12.4 million deal signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2010. Delhomme, at that point in his career, was an unrestricted free agent, 34 years old and with a much meatier and more accomplished background than Fitzpatrick currently has. The $6.2 million annual figure is worth noting; compare it to annual salaries ranging between $7 million and $11 million in the longer-term deals.
- Kyle Orton's two year, $11.6 million extension signed with the Denver Broncos in 2010. Orton was very clearly the Broncos' quarterback of choice for the immediate future, as the team had just drafted a project (Tim Tebow) as their long-term guy in the first round. Orton signed that deal months after Tebow was picked, and again, he's in a salary range that pays him like a starter.
Obviously, we're going to guess that most Bills fans would be more comfortable with a deal for Fitzpatrick in this ballpark. There is one fundamental difference between Fitzpatrick's situation and those other two deals, however, that would likely cause the Bills to seek at least a third year on any extension, and perhaps more: both Denver and Cleveland had just drafted highly-touted rookies. Obviously, the Bills do not have that type of investment on their roster at the moment.
The key point here, however, is the slight decrease in annual salary. If $6 million is the going rate (it's double what Fitzpatrick makes now, and a large chunk of it could be comfortably guaranteed), would Bills fans really object to a three- or four-year extension for the Amish Rifle?