Ryan Fitzpatrick has played for eight different NFL franchises and been a free agent eight separate times in his professional football career.
But this past week, at age 38, is when the quarterback said he felt he was the most sought after of his NFL tenure.
Fitzpatrick wouldn't share the number of teams he spoke with before agreeing to terms with the Washington Football Team on Monday, but the quarterback did say it was more than three. Ultimately, though, the Harvard graduate chose to sign a one-year deal with Washington, his ninth different team and one that would give him the opportunity to compete for the starting job come the fall.
"Just a chance," Fitzpatrick said when asked what assurances he needed from a team for him to sign with them.
"That's all I've asked for my whole career. I just want the chance to have the opportunity to compete."
In Washington, Fitzpatrick will have just that, as he's expected to enter training camp as the Football Team's starting quarterback. The veteran has far more experience than Washington's other two passers under contract, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke, and the team isn't currently in a draft position to select one of the top signal-callers in the 2021 class come April.
However, Fitzpatrick understands that he's not going to be given the QB1 job. Heinicke is ready to come in and compete, too, and Allen is expected to be fully healthy by camp as well. While neither of those passers has the track record Fitzpatrick does, they're each a lot younger and have some upside.
While Fitzpatrick has been playing some of the best football of his career the past two seasons, he turns 39 in November and knows he's not Washington's long-term answer at the position. It's why when deciding his next stop in free agency, all he was looking for was the chance to just compete for the starting job.
"For this opportunity in particular, it's the same thing it's been my whole career," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm going to have to go out there, I'm going to have to earn it, I'm going to have to earn guys' respect by the way that I play, by the way that I prepare, by the way I present myself every single day. I'm looking forward to doing that."
As for why Fitzpatrick has been able to stick around in the NFL for so long without establishing himself with one specific team, the quarterback pointed to the tremendous amount of confidence he has in himself.
"I probably have too much confidence in myself, but that's just something I've always had and been a huge advantage for me," Fitzpatrick said. "It's allowed me to stick around as long as I have. I have the ultimate belief in myself and I feel like whatever situation I'm put in, if I have a chance to compete, that's all I want. So I'm excited for the opportunity."
Besides getting the chance to compete, Fitzpatrick is excited about the opportunity of starting fresh. It's something he's had the chance to do several different times in his career, but it's also something he takes tremendous pride in.
"Part of my story is skipping around to different teams and just trying to instill belief and just show that passion to these guys. ... I'm really excited," Fitzpatrick said.
"Every time I go to a new place, it's just a new opportunity, a new adventure, a new journey for me and I kind of get to re-invent myself every year on a new team," Fitzpatrick continued. "I have to prove myself again. I have to earn the respect of the guys. So, those are the things that get me really excited about this game."