There more I think about the Bills' signing of free agent Kevin Kolb, the more it seems they've essentially re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Really, there are some striking similarities between the two guys, starting with the fact that they were both released after collecting less than half of a big contract they signed in 2011. The numbers were remarkably similar. Kolb signed a six-year, $62.1 million deal with the Cardinals after Arizona acquired him from the Eagles in the summer of '11. Kolb collected $21 million and had a $2 million roster bonus due when the Cardinals released him.
Fitzpatrick signed a six-year, $62 million extension with the Bills midway through the 2011 campaign. He, too, collected $21 million of that deal. He had a $3 million bonus due when the Bills released him two weeks ago.
Their statistics are very comparable, too: Fitzpatrick completed 59.8 percent of his passes as a Bill. Kolb has completed 59.5 percent in his career. Fitzpatrick averaged 6.7 per pass in Buffalo; Kolb's career average per pass is 6.9 yards. Fitz is 6-2, 221 pounds; Kolb stands 6-3, 218. Fitzpatrick was 19-31 as a starter in Buffalo. Kolb is 9-12 as a starter. Fitz had 80 TD passes and 64 interceptions with the Bills; Kolb has 28 TD passes and 25 picks. His arm strength is roughly equal to Fitzpatrick's.
So the way I see it, the Bills are bringing in a younger (by two years) version of Fitz who hasn't failed in the eyes of Bills fans. It wasn't so much about money, but the fact that Fitz had worn out his welcome with Buffalo fans. Management couldn't sell him to a dubious public. The problem was, if Fitz came back and competed for the starting job with Tarvaris Jackson and a rookie QB, he might win the job.
I still think the Bills want their rookie to be the starter. But if Kolb (or Jackson) wins the job in camp, at least he's a fresh face, someone who hasn't failed here yet. The Bills could sell him as a bridge to the future. Fitz could have served the same role. I think he's better than Kolb. But at least this comes off as some semblance of change and progress.
Kolb has a lot to prove. He's had trouble staying healthy. Oakland's Tommy Kelly called him "scared and skittish" last year. He lost the job in Arizona to John Skelton at one point. Cardinals management was criticized for failing to develop a successor to Kurt Warner (sound familiar, Bills fans?).
After Kolb's final game in Philadelphia, a columnist characterized Kolb as "much more ordinary than was hoped."
Again, very reminiscent of the guy who quarterbacked Buffalo the last three years. The way I see it, Kolb is Fitz without the Ivy League degree and the bad beard.