New York Jets GM: 'Big sigh of relief' after Ryan Fitzpatrick deal

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't the only person in the New York Jets' organization who exhaled when his contract dispute was resolved at the start of training camp.

So did the man on the other side of the bargaining table.

"For a night, I felt a big sigh of relief," general manager Mike Maccagnan said Friday, speaking to reporters for the first time since the draft. "And then it was back to work."

The two sides broke a six-month stalemate on Wednesday evening, with Fitzpatrick agreeing to a contract that will pay him $12 million this season. Technically, it's a two-year deal, but it will void after the season, making him a free agent again.

Maccagnan declined to delve into the specifics of the negotiations, and he wouldn't address Fitzpatrick's comment about being offended by the team's initial offer -- three years, $24 million.

"The deal is done; we're very happy with it," he said. "We're happy we have Fitz back. I just want to go forward with this whole thing and get the team ready to play. We said all along we want to get Ryan back in the organization. It took a long time to get to the end, but that's what we felt comfortable with at the end."

The Jets gave Fitzpatrick a deadline for 7 p.m. Wednesday, when players reported for the first team meeting. Maccagnan said that was "the demarcation point to get something done."

It was a busy two weeks for the second-year general manager, who signed Pro Bowl defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year, $86 million contract on July 15 -- the last day a player with the franchise tag could sign a long-term deal. It lowered Wilkerson's cap charge, from $15.7 million (the franchise tender) to $10 million, which gave them flexibility with the structure of the Fitzpatrick deal, Maccagnan said.

Another big contract is looming on the horizon -- defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who is signed through 2017. If Richardson has a strong campaign in 2016, he could demand a new deal next offseason.

"[Wilkerson's contract] doesn't preclude us from doing something with Sheldon going forward," Maccagnan said.

The general manager touched on a number of topics during a session with beat writers. He all but assured Geno Smith a spot on the 53-man roster, adding that he and the coaches haven't dismissed the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks. Smith, Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg would serve as Fitzpatrick's backups.

In the first year of the Maccagnan-Todd Bowles regime, the Jets finished 10-6, blowing a wild-card spot in Week 17.

Despite the near-playoff season, Maccagnan wouldn't attach any lofty expectations to the coming season.

"I wouldn't say 'playoffs or bust,'" he said. "I mean, I know everybody probably wants that quote, but we're working one week at a time."