New York Jets: 5 free agent quarterbacks they should consider
Sep 21, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jason Campbell (17) against the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 33-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Should the New York Jets bring in a veteran quarterback as insurance heading into the regular season? Sometime before the preseason is over, we should expect the Jets to hire another signal caller to come in while Geno Smith is hurt.
The question at hand is, will they stay with who they have once Smith returns to full strength? That remains unanswerable for now, but while the Jets are again in the market for a quarterback, let’s go through the best options available to them. While this crop of free agents does not have a franchise savior in it, you never know who could surprise you and become a New York sports cult hero.
So Jets fans, these guys won’t get you dreaming of Super Bowl championships but they may provide something the Jets have missed at the quarterback position for a long time: leadership. Whether they are competing for the starting job or simply providing insurance in case Fitzpatrick gets hurt or sucker punched, a new presence in the locker room at the position could do the Jets some good.
With that being said, here are the 5 Quarterbacks that I think the Jets should consider signing within the next few weeks.
Next: 5. Rex Grossman
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5. Rex Grossman
Grossman isn’t exactly a gunslinger, with a TD to INT ratio below 1, but he has been to a Super Bowl, something the Jets haven’t been to in a long time, as you all well know. At 34 years old with no track record of success – his stats during the year of the Bears’ Super Bowl run are quite pedestrian – chances are he won’t be giving Fitzpatrick or any other quarterback a run for their money. What he can do is provide some guidance in a locker room that has been lacking in the character and leadership department for some time.
There is definitely a veteran presence on the Jets, but mostly on the defensive side, especially with the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. On offense, the team is full of unproven players who have rarely navigated themselves through a successful NFL season.
While Grossman may not be the poster-child of success and excellence at the quarterback position, he can make some – and yes, that is being polite – plays if he is fully healthy. According to Rand Getlin of NFL.com, the Jets have already reached out to him despite having suffered an injury:
I'm told the #Jets reached out to Rex Grossman, who is dealing with an injury he suffered in training. Will need a few weeks to get ready.
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) August 11, 2015
This should tell you that ultimately the current market at the quarterback position is pretty thin. There are worse options out there besides Grossman, so I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets give him a shot.
Next: 4. Matt Flynn
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4. Matt Flynn
According to Spotrac.com, Flynn has earned nearly $19 million dollars across seven seasons. Not one of those seasons has seen Flynn take control of a team’s starting quarterback position.
Like Smith, Flynn has shown in flashes that he can get the job done at the NFL level. In a relief effort in the final game of the 2011 season for the Packers, Flynn threw for a franchise record 480 yards and six touchdowns. This one game has led to millions of dollars in paychecks for the 30 year old, but he has still not been given the keys to the offense on any team.
Out of all the free agent quarterbacks available, Flynn has the best chance to come into a camp and win a starting job. And of course, this is another guy who has been rumored to be on the Jets radar, as reported by NFL.com‘s Ian Rappaport:
Free agent QB Matt Flynn is working out for the #Jets today, source said. Had spent the early part of camp with the #Patriots.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 14, 2015
Flynn has been in the mix for a starting position in Oakland and Seattle, who both found younger options with more potential (given their age). At 30 years old, nobody knows with any certainty what this guy can do in the league if he were to be given a chance. If the Jets could get this guy into camp this week, with the improved talent that they now have on offense, this could be a beneficial move for the franchise.
Next: 3. Jason Campbell
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At 33 years old, Jason Campbell is the only guy on this list with true experience as an NFL starter. While his best years – and they weren’t anything special – are behind him, he is the same age as Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. In a four-year span as an NFL starter from 2007-2010, he averaged 2,988 yards with 15 TDs and 10 INTs per season. Not exactly Hall of Fame caliber numbers, but it could work if the Jets readopt the Ground and Pound offensive philosophy.
However, with top talent at the wide receiver position, I don’t think those guys would be too pleased with this potential signing. There have not been any rumors to my knowledge regarding any team signing Campbell, and that is because he has reportedly chosen retirement, as reported by the likes of Rappaport:
Veteran QB Jason Campbell, who played in ’14 for #Bengals, set to retire at 33. Nothing official yet, but as camps approach, that’s his plan
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 15, 2015
We’ve seen this before (I’m sure you all remember Brett Favre), and at a not so advanced age, a guy with 79 career starts would not be a bad addition to a shaky quarterback landscape. Unlike Fitzpatrick, Campbell can use his legs to advance the football. The mobility aspect that Smith provided added another dimension to the offense. In my opinion, Smith and Campbell are similar quarterbacks, so adding a guy who is older and a seasoned NFL veteran could be just what the Jets need.
Next: 2. Michael Vick
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2. Michael Vick
Speaking of mobile quarterbacks, old friend Michael Vick is still available. At 35 years old and with his best years behind him since his stint in jail due to his conviction of dog-fighting, Vick does not seem to be at the top of anyone’s list of quarterbacks to bring into camp, not even for the Jets. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and if things do not work out with some of the other quarterbacks on this list there would be no harm in giving this another shot.
In the games in which he was given the reigns as the starter last year with the Jets, he looked far from prepared to lead an offense. In fact, he looked like a guy on his last leg. Some will say that given the Jets poor performances throughout the season that he should have been given a chance sooner, or maybe even should have been the guy coming out of camp. Of course, hindsight is always 20-20. So while Vick may have made a difference, no one can really fault the Jets for seeing what their young quarterback could do at the time, unless you’re looking to blame ex-general manager John Idzik.
According to a report from NFL.com’s Connor Orr, no reunion is planned:
"While this might seem like a mistake on the Jets’ part, given that Vick might be by far the best quarterback on the open market right now, it seems like the club is going for scheme knowledge over ability"
It is understandable to see why the Jets would not want to sign Vick. The system that new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey runs is unfamiliar to him, and the team may not want to take the time to teach a guy that they’ve already seen learn a system completely foreign to him. Given how thin the market is, the Jets may need to consider this option, even if it means teaching Vick a whole new system.
Next: 1. Tyler Thigpen
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If you were to look up the definition of journeyman, you shouldn’t be surprised if you see a picture of Tyler Thigpen next to it – that is, if you know what Thigpen looks like. At 31 years old, Thigpen has played for 4 teams in 8 seasons, and was featured as the starting quarterback in just one of those seasons. In 2008, Thigpen put up decent numbers as the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, with 18 TDs, 12 INTs, 2,608 passing yards and 386 rushing yards. However, the Chiefs went 2-14 that year, making Thigpen’s already somewhat okay stats look worse.
To be honest, if the Jets are looking to bring in guys with experience in Chan Gailey’s system, then Thigpen is a good option. During Gailey’s tenure as head coach in Buffalo, Thigpen played sparingly in 7 games. Thigpen was still in camp, so he knows the system already.
Having an option like Thigpen available gives the Jets some leverage. Teams aren’t circling this guy’s house waiting for him to sign the dotted line of a contract, allowing the Jets to explore the other options available to them. The Jets could bring Thigpen in a week before the start of the regular season and have him ready to be the backup in time for the game against Cleveland.
The Jets even reportedly had a workout scheduled with Thigpen, but then cancelled it according to Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.com:
The Jets had scheduled to fly out and work out Tyler Thigpen Friday but they reached out and canceled the workout per league source. #Jets
— Dianna Marie Russini (@diannaESPN) August 12, 2015
The Jets brought in Vick last year because he had extensive knowledge of then-offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s scheme. Thigpen would be brought in for similar reasons this time around.
Next: Lunch with the New York Jets: 53-man roster projection