Bengals acquire QB Fitzpatrick from Rams, release vet Johnson

Updated: September 1, 2007, 6:19 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Moving to upgrade their backup quarterback spot, the Cincinnati Bengals acquired third-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick from the St. Louis Rams on Saturday in exchange for a seventh-round choice in the 2008 draft.

The Bengals then released six-year veteran Doug Johnson, the journeyman who had been No. 2 on the depth chart. That means Fitzpatrick will be the primary backup to starter Carson Palmer, according to a team source.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the move has been years in the making.

"We've spoken to the Rams about Ryan a few different times, a few different possibilities over the last three years," Lewis said. "As I told him, we knew he was going to be a Bengal, it just took a little longer than we expected.

"He's played with really good composure. We liked him coming out of college. We like what we see."

Several teams had inquired about Fitzpatrick, who had fallen behind Brock Berlin for the No. 3 spot on the Rams' depth chart.

Fitzpatrick, 24, is regarded as very talented, with a strong arm and good presence in the pocket, and the Bengals' organization had sought to add a younger backup to develop. Cincinnati coaches viewed Johnson as inconsistent and not a player with whom they were likely to win if Palmer went down with an injury.

A former Harvard star, Fitzpatrick was chosen by the Rams with a seventh-round pick in the 2005 draft. As a rookie, he started three games because of injuries, and became one of just a handful of players in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in his first regular-season start.

Against Houston that year, Fitzpatrick completed 19 of 30 passes for 310 yards, with three touchdown passes and one interception in an overtime victory.

For his career, Fitzpatrick has appeared in four games, three as a starter, and has completed 76 of 135 passes for 777 yards, with four touchdown passes and eight interceptions, for a passer rating of 58.2. In four preseason games this summer, he completed 28 of 44 passes for 249 yards, with one touchdown pass and two interceptions.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.