DAVIE, Fla. – Miami Dolphins veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be available for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills, a source that has been confirmed by ESPN.
He was put on the reserve / COVID-19 list on Thursday afternoon, the team said.
The Dolphins and the NFL conducted an initial contact trace with no high-risk close contacts identified as of Thursday afternoon, a source told ESPN, but the process is ongoing. Fitzpatrick trained fully on Wednesday and was not on the injury report, but he did not train on Thursday afternoon, suggesting the positive COVID-19 test recently came as a surprise.
Dolphin Safety Eric Rowe said that Trainer Brian Flores briefed the team on Fitzpatrick’s status during a Zoom meeting.
“It hurts. He’s a leader on our team. He’s energizing,” said Rowe. “I’m sure it’s worse for him because he loves the game and nobody wants to catch COVID. You have to go forward with that.
“COVID is a real thing whether you have no symptoms or not. Just praying that he has no symptoms or hasn’t passed it on to his children.”
Rookie Tua Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ starting quarterback, but Fitzpatrick was asked to play what Flores compares to a nine-inning reliever role twice in the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to a 26:25 comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday after a 34-yard shot combined with a 15-yard face mask penalty scored the winning field goal.
The Dolphins added Jake Rudock to the 53-man roster on Thursday and is expected to be Tagovailoa’s replacement Sunday. Tagovailoa, Rudock and quarterback Reid Sinnett were in full exercise on Thursday.
Linebacker Elandon Roberts was also added to the injured reserve and recipient Kirk Merritt was added to the list as a COVID-19 replacement for Sunday’s game.
NFL Network first reported Fitzpatrick’s positive test.
The Dolphins would secure a place in the playoffs if they beat the Bills. You could still defeat the playoffs but would have to lose to either the Cleveland Browns (against a Steelers team resting key starters), Indianapolis Colts (against Jaguars) or Baltimore Ravens (against Bengals). The Bills, who won the AFC East but can get to number 2 (versus number 3) based on the results of the 17th week, have been careful about whether they will play their starters.
Fitzpatrick, who has never made the playoffs in his 16-year career, could be at risk of missing the Dolphins’ first playoff game if they make it. Any asymptomatic player who tests positive for COVID-19 must wait at least 10 days before being rejoined on the team.
This means that Fitzpatrick cannot return to the team until Sunday January 10th at the earliest, and only if he is traveling separately from the team by private transport to attend the game. This season there are three playoff games on Saturday and three on Sunday for the wildcard weekend.
Fitzpatrick, 38, is 4-3 as a starter this season, throwing for 2,091 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.