The Hall of Famer made the comments while being honored, along with Vice President Joe Biden, at the Father of the Year Awards luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.READ MORE: 81-Year-Old Found Dead In Elmwood Park Home, Man Taken Into Custody
“He was ahead of Fitz last year athletically,” Namath said of Smith, according to Newsday. “Geno has grown. He’s filling out stronger, and [he’s] more mature.”
In three seasons, Smith has played in 31 games, starting 29. He has passed for 5,836 yards with 27 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.
Smith lost his starting job to Fitzpatrick during training camp last season after then-teammate IK Enemkpali broke Smith’s jaw in a locker room fight.READ MORE: 2 Adults, 3 Children Hospitalized With Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Brooklyn
Fitzpatrick passed for 3,905 yards and a team-record 31 touchdowns en route to leading the Jets to a 10-6 record, although the team missed the playoffs.
Now a free agent, Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been locked in a stalemate in contract talks for months. The team has reportedly offered him a three-year, $24 million deal that would pay him $12 million this season.
“We talk about Fitzpatrick not signing a contract with the Jets,” Namath said Tuesday. “Well, you got to figure as smart as he is, he just doesn’t recognize that it’s important to play with a good team. Last year was the first time he played with a good team in his career, and he excelled.MORE NEWS: Civilian Complaint Review Board: Dozens Of NYPD Officers Should Be Disciplined For Misconduct During Black Lives Matter Protests Last Year
“His contract came up this year. I really believe Fitzpatrick wanted to sign, but I believe his agent was trying to get a number that the Jets wouldn’t give. And I also believe Geno Smith is the quarterback this year.”