Fitzpatrick spent the last two seasons with the New York Jets, who allowed the quarterback’s contract to expire in February, making him a free agent.
The Buccaneers also announced that they waived quarterback Sean Renfree to make room for Fitzpatrick.
Financial terms were not immediately available. ESPN and NFL Network reported that the one-year deal is worth $3 million.
The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick set a Jets franchise record in 2015 with 31 touchdown passes and was re-signed by New York to a one-year, $12 million deal. But he slumped badly as the Jets got off to a 1-5 start. He was benched twice and finished with just 12 TD passes and 17 interceptions.
Because his $10 million bonus was actually prorated over two years to help with the salary cap last year, Fitzpatrick will cost the Jets $5 million in ”dead money” on the cap this year.
Fitzpatrick will be entering his 13th NFL season but has never made the playoffs. He was within a win of reaching the postseason with the Jets in 2015 but threw interceptions in New York’s final three drives in a season-ending loss to Buffalo.
He might have a chance at fulfilling that goal this season, albeit as a backup, with the Buccaneers, who went 9-7 and just missed out on the playoffs last year.
Winston, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, has started all 32 games in his NFL career and is one of the league’s rising stars with 8,132 yards passing and 50 touchdowns in his first two seasons. But the Buccaneers were in the market for an experienced backup after Mike Glennon signed with Chicago in March.
Fitzpatrick has thrown for 25,888 career yards with 166 touchdowns and 133 INTs and a 79.7 passer rating in stints with the Rams, who drafted him in the seventh round out of Harvard in 2005, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and Jets.