Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Monday issued comments following the announcement that wide receiver Stevie Johnson had signed a new five-year contract with the team.
A transcript of Fitzpatrick's conference call with reporters follows:
On how he feels about the re-signing of WR Stevie Johnson:
I’m fired up. I think this shows a lot about Stevie and the direction that the Bills are headed. I think this was the move that was necessary for us just in terms of the mental aspect of being our go-to guy in the receiving core and being a huge play maker for us. It was a must in terms of re-signing him. He’s a guy that I talked about at length the last few years. He’s my go-to receiver and I think we’ve developed a great relationship. To be able to continue that and see that grow for the next few years is going to be great. I think Chan (Gailey) and Buddy (Nix) really have a plan in place. This kind of shows that we’re on the right track and we’re going to continue to keep the guys that perform and continue to build on what we’ve done.
On how many phone calls he made to Johnson since the end of the season:
You know Stevie’s the big Twitter, text and all that stuff, but we were both in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and I talked to him a lot out there. There have been a lot of texts and just different forms of communication. Some of it has been has been not necessarily you need to be back and that kind of stuff; a lot of the conversations lately have been just talking through the process. He’s a teammate and obviously someone I want back and he’s a friend. It’s a really hard process to go through. There are so many ups and downs through the negotiations and so many things that are said, a lot of doubt that creeps in your mind. A lot of it was talking about that. He obviously knew where I stood. I did frequently remind him of that. One of things I told him throughout the whole thing is you need to go somewhere where they value you and they know what you’re about and know how to utilize you. He knows with me as his quarterback that that’s going to happen here. He knows with Chan as his coach that’s going to happen here. We think the world of him as a receiver and as a person. I think this is a big day for the Bills.
On why he has always been such a Johnson supporter and the connection that they have:
I think coming up in the NFL we did it in similar fashion. I was a seventh round pick and he was a seventh round pick. We’re both guys that had to earn the opportunities that we got and had to wait in the wings for a few years. I came in as the back-up and being able to work with him in practice on the scout team and do those kinds of things and see how talented this guy was. I just felt like when I finally got my opportunity to play in a Bills uniform and when he got his opportunity to play that we had to take advantage of that together. A lot of it came from the similar situations in coming unheralded into the league. This is the beginning for us and that’s what’s exciting. This whole off-season and I knew in my heart that Stevie was going to re-sign with the Bills. It was hard to think about the other alternative and what would happen if he signed elsewhere. We’ve got a lot of unfinished business out there on the field, things that we want to accomplish together and things that we want to accomplish as a team.
On what the next step is that Johnson has to take as a receiver:
Stevie has every year, the last few years he’s been trying to prove himself and he’s been trying to grab the spotlight and get the attention and now he has it. He’s a bonafide receiver in the NFL. He’s had two productive years in a row. Now he has the contract that shows and puts him with some of the elites in the game. Stevie’s not going to sit back and say, “Ok I’m done and I’ve accomplished what I’m going to accomplish.” The comfort level from signing the contract, just in terms of taking care of his family because I know that’s important for him. He’s got to make the next step now and the next step for him is something he’s done and something he needs t continue to build on is being a leader every day. Not only for the guys in the receiving room but for everyone on the team. This puts him right at the top of one of the big leaders of the team, not just his group of guys. I think he has to realize that. All the stuff with the celebrations and the penalties that happened last year that stuff’s all done with. He’s a leader on this team and he’s a guy that’s concerned now about the team and winning and I think he’ll show that.
On the message that this signing sends to the Bills’ locker room:
I think it says a lot about Buddy and what he’s doing. Buddy’s a man of his word. Essentially what he’s shown with Kyle (Williams), with me, with Stevie is you perform then you’re going to get rewarded. They want to reward guys that they see performing for the Bills. They aren’t necessarily going to find a lot of guys that have different colored uniforms on from the free agent stuff. They want to reward guys that they draft. They want to reward the guys that have been on the team, played well and performed. That’s a big message to send in the locker room, even a guy like Drayton Florence that got rewarded for his play. That’s exciting to see a GM follow up on what he preaches. I think it says a lot to the league as well. You’ve got a guy in Stevie Johnson that has had two 1,000 yard receiving years in a row. He had possibilities of going elsewhere and maybe making more money. He decided he wanted to stay with the Bills and I think it says a lot of where we’re headed as a team and just the excitement that we have in the locker room for this upcoming season.
On what makes Johnson special as a wide receiver:
All you need to see to understand is turn on the second game we played versus the Jets. You’ve got (Darrelle) Revis who’s the best cover guy in the game. He likes to get in your face, bump you and play man-to-man. Stevie didn’t win every time but Stevie won a lot of the time. That game right there I think really if you want to pin it down to one or two things, just watch that game and you find out why he’s so special at what he does. It’s unorthodox and it’s never something you would put on teaching tape, or never something you would hear a high school coach teach his guys but Stevie gets the job done. I think this is a results based business and Stevie gets results by the way that he does it.
On why he says Johnson play is unorthodox:
I don’t think you’ll ever see - when you teach routes and when you teach the basic slant route you’re going to say, “Ok you need to have your inside foot up. You need to take three steps cut on your third step and run in at a 45 degree angle.” I don’t think Stevie’s ever done that in his life. He’s a guy that it might take him six steps before he breaks. It might take him one step before he breaks. He might skip twice, do a circle and then break. Like I said, he gets open. He gets open in different ways. I’ve had a lot of good receivers that I’ve played with and he’s certainly not the most orthodox in the ways that he does it but, he’s also probably better than most of who I’ve played with in terms of getting open and man coverage.
On his new hair cut for Johnson:
I’m a man of my word. Stevie and I have been talking a lot especially the last few days about everything and that just happened to be in one of our conversations. I followed through on that. It’s probably not the look I’ll go into the season with or the look that you’ll see me with in a few weeks but it’s in good fun and I’m certainly happy to have him back.
On how long he has to keep the haircut:
I don’t think we really set a timeframe but I’ll have to ask Stevie.
On if he’ll wear his new hairdo out in public:
I think I’m going to wear it proudly today. I’m on cloud nine right now and excited about Stevie being back.