(via Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that the team has signed free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and tight end O.J. Howard, the team’s first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fitzpatrick (6-2, 223) joins the Buccaneers after having spent the past two seasons (2015-16) with the New York Jets. In his 12-year career, the 34-year old has started 116-of-127 games played, throwing for 25,888 yards and 166 touchdowns. In 2015, Fitzpatrick recorded the second-most passing yards in Jets history (3,905), while throwing for a Jets franchise record 31 touchdowns – both of which were career highs. That 2015 Jets offense set a team record for total yards (5,896) and ranked 10th in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick, a native of Gilbert, Arizona, originally entered the league as a seventh-round pick (250th overall) of the St. Louis Rams in the 2005 NFL Draft. During his career, the Harvard product has played for the Rams, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, the Tennessee Titans, the Houston Texans and the Jets. He is the only quarterback in league history to throw four touchdowns in a game with four different franchises (Buffalo, Houston, New York and Tennessee). His 166 passing touchdowns are the most of any Ivy League quarterback, besting Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman (137).
Howard (6-6, 251) was chosen 19th overall out of the University of Alabama, where he started 37-of-57 career games played, including 28 of the final 30 in his collegiate career. He recorded 114 receptions for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns as a member of the Crimson Tide. In two College Football Playoff National Championship Games against Clemson, Howard totaled nine receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns, winning the MVP award for his efforts in the 2015 contest. As a senior in 2016, Howard was named first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus and was a third-team selection by the Associated Press, while earning second-team All-SEC honors from both the coaches and the AP. He was a finalist for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s best tight end. A native of Prattville, Alabama, he attended Autauga Academy.
The team also announced that quarterback Sean Renfree, who joined the team this offseason, has been waived and defensive end Jacquies Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender. Tampa Bay’s roster is now at the league maximum of 90.
Smith (6-2, 260) came to the Buccaneers after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills in 2014. During the past three seasons with Tampa Bay (2014-16), Smith has started 18-of-28 contests he has played in, totaling 39 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries (one for touchdown) and three passes defensed.
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