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Bills’ Fitzpatrick agrees to new deal

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Associated Press
October 29, 2011
— Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t intend to shed his scraggly beard or lose his large collection of T-shirts after signing a 6-year, $59 million contract on Friday that secures him as the Buffalo Bills franchise quarterback.

Given how much he’ll be making and his new high-profile status, Fitzpatrick might have a hard time sticking with the “No-Name” label though.


The one-time journeyman, 2005 seventh-round draft pick and Harvard graduate has formally arrived as a bona fide NFL starter after being rewarded with what could potentially become the most lucrative contract in team history. It’s a bold move by a team that’s spent much of the past 15 years searching for someone to fill the quarterback role, and a reward for a player who as a first-time starter this season has led a revived offense that has Buffalo off to a surprising 4-2 start.


“It’s been a long road. There’s been a lot of hurdles and obstacles that I’ve had to overcome,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we’ve got this thing headed in the right direction. So to be a part of that, and to be able to continue to be a part of that for years to come, I’m really excited about it.”


Fitzpatrick becomes the first starting quarterback since Doug Flutie in 1999 to earn a contract extension with Buffalo. And Fitzpatrick’s deal includes $24 million in guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with negotiations, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team does not release contract terms.


That’s a significant raise over the $3.22 million base salary he was making this season. Fitzpatrick was in the final year of the three-year contract—worth $7.405 million in base salary—he signed upon joining the Bills as a free agent in 2009.


“I’m excited about Ryan getting this done. He’ll be our quarterback for a long time,” general manager Buddy Nix said.


Until Fitzpatrick’s emergence, the quarterback position has been unsettled in Buffalo since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.


Saints’ Ingram out against Rams


New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram will not play Sunday against St. Louis after missing all week with a right heel injury.


As a result, the Saints will move running back Chris Ivory from the physically unable to perform list to the 53-man active roster, coach Sean Payton said Friday.


Ingram leads the Saints with 329 yards and three touchdowns on 85 carries this season. Ivory, meanwhile, led the Saints in 2010 with 716 yards and five touchdowns.


Extra points

-- The agent for Chris Harris says the safety released by the Bears has joined the Detroit Lions. Agent Albert Elias posted on Twitter that Harris had been claimed by the Lions. The team didn’t immediately confirm the move, but placed safety Vincent Fuller (elbow) on injured reserve.


Harris, 29, was released by Chicago on Thursday after asking for a trade. He made a career-high five interceptions last season for the Bears, but fell out of favor and was slowed by a pulled hamstring.


-- Tarvaris Jackson completed his most extensive day of practice since suffering a pectoral injury three weeks ago and appears likely to return for the Seattle Seahawks (2-4) on Sunday.


Jackson went through pregame warmups with the team last week in Cleveland before the Seahawks ultimately decided to give him another week and give Charlie Whitehurst the starting nod. Whitehurst and the offense stumbled to three points and only 137 yards of total offense.


-- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford


isn’t yet sure whether he will be able to play Sunday at Denver. Stafford seemed to be without limitations while reporters had access to practice Friday morning. Asked if he was healthy enough to play, Stafford said he didn’t know.


Stafford limped off the field in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, then went through a full practice Friday.


“He’s better,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “Hopefully we can keep him on the track. I don’t know officially if he’s a game-time decision, but we won’t announce anything before then.”


The Lions listed Stafford as questionable on their injury report.


If Stafford has an unexpected setback, Shaun Hill will start in his place.


Steelers WR Ward listed as questionable


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward did not practice again on Friday due to a sprained ankle and is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.


Emmanuel Sanders indicated he expects to start Sunday in place of Ward, who has not practiced all week. Sanders has one official career start—the season finale last season, but only because Pittsburgh opened in a three-receiver set.


The franchise career leader in every major receiving statistical category, Ward has not missed a game since 2007 — although last November he was knocked out of a game against the Patriots early due to a concussion. That ended a club record streak of 186 consecutive games with a reception.


Linebacker Jason Worilds (quadriceps), backup nose tackle Chris Hoke (neck) and guard Doug Legursky (toe) were ruled out for Sunday’s game, along with linebacker James Harrison (broken eye socket), who will miss his fourth consecutive.


Veteran inside linebacker James Farrior is questionable after being limited in participation. With Worilds out, Stevenson Sylvester would spell Farrior if he cannot play.



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