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Free Agency

Top 5 free agent quarterbacks worth signing by the Jets

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 3: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals scrambles out of the pocket during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 3: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals scrambles out of the pocket during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI, OH – JANUARY 3: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals scrambles out of the pocket during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – JANUARY 3: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals scrambles out of the pocket during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)

Before looking into the 2018 NFL Draft for an answer at quarterback, here are a few options the New York Jets should look into for the 2018 season.

Let us face the facts; neither Bryce Petty nor Christian Hackenberg is the answer at quarterback for the New York Jets going into the 2018 season. In just three seasons with the Jets, Petty has thrown for only 1,353 yards, four touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, with a 53 percent completion rate.

All in just 10 games.

Hackenberg has not seen a sliver of game time since being drafted in 2016, but not for a lack of trying. Anonymous players and coaches in the Jets organization over the past few years have leaked to the media claiming he’s a bust and won’t ever find success in the NFL.

It is a sad reality that the Jets have to accept. Neither of their young quarterbacks are ready or good enough to take the starting job.

With that said, any NFL pundits believe that the Jets will be looking to the 2018 NFL Draft to find their franchise signal caller. However, this year’s free-agent quarterback class has quite a few gems. Here are the top five free agent quarterbacks the Jets should consider signing before this year’s draft.

Next: 5. Keeping things internal

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets high fives the fans prior to an NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets high fives the fans prior to an NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

5. Josh McCown

If you look up the term “journeyman quarterback” in the NFL dictionary (which doesn’t exist, so don’t even try), you would find Josh McCown’s face plastered right next to it. In 15 seasons, McCown has played for 11 professional football teams, with little to show for it.

However, in his first season with the Green and White, McCown put up career-high numbers in total touchdowns (23) and passing yards (2,926).

A broken hand he suffered in Week 14 cut McCown’s season short, but nonetheless, he is still serviceable. He has even gone to say that he would like to return to the Jets for the 2018 season, with GM Mike Maccagnan returning the sentiment.

If the Jets do end up drafting a quarterback this year, expect McCown to be more of a bridge quarterback for the Jets in 2018.

Next: 4. Disgruntled player looking for a new opportunity

SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 20: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 20: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

4. A.J. McCarron

Having filed a grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals last November, McCarron’s free agent status is up in the air. It is evident that the fifth-year quarterback wants out of Cincinnati. He’s even gone on record to say he wanted to play for the Cleveland Browns when he was almost traded to them prior to the deadline.

Yeah, it is that bad.

According to his contract, McCarron is set to become a restricted free agent. This means that if a team wants McCarron’s services, they will have to pay a steep price for them.

Experts believe that the Bengals will put a first-round tender on McCarron once he hits free agency. However, if McCarron wins his grievance, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. This essentially gives McCarron the freedom to choose where he wants to go.

McCarron’s services are a major target for quarterback-needy teams, including the jets. When Andy Dalton went down with a thumb injury in 2015, McCarron stepped up. In seven games, McCarron completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 854 yards, six touchdowns, and two picks. McCarron also racked up a 4-3 record that year as a starter, showing he knows how to get football wins.

If the Jets end up promoting QB Coach Jeremy Bates to OC, he might be able to mold McCarron into the starting quarterback the Jets have been waiting for.

Next: 3. A controversial quarterback

3. Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick deserves a chance to play again, and even for the New York Jets. Regardless of how you feel about his political/social stances, you cannot deny that the man has enough talent to play quarterback in this league.

This is still the same quarterback that lead the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl XLVII appearance in 2012 and an NFC Championship appearance in 2013.

His career stats? Better than a lot of other free agent quarterbacks. 72 touchdowns to 30 picks, over 12,000 passing yards, and 2,300 rushing yards. The man has a cannon for an arm. He has legs as long as a gazelle. He is fast, and under the right coach, he is a dangerous player to go up against.

The only thing that Kaepernick has going against him is the distraction and media circus that he brings. If Christopher Johnson (not Woody) can determine how to handle the media frenzy that comes with signing him, he can excel for the Green and White.

It’s crazy. So crazy, it just might work.

Next: 2. A quarterback coming off serious injury

GREEN BAY, WI – JANUARY 03: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI – JANUARY 03: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

2. Teddy Bridgewater

 I was so close to labeling this section “any of the current Vikings quarterbacks,” seeing as that each one of them has had some sort of success over the past three years. But after close inspection (and a lot of close game tape analysis), I found that Bridgewater has the most upside among the three.

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Sam Bradford is just too injury prone, and for all I know, this could have been a fluke season for Case Keenum (ala Ryan Fitzpatrick).

Bridgewater is the only one of the three that has shown at least some consistency in his career. Prior to his devastating knee injury, Bridgewater was showing signs of superb game management and improvement. Many pundits compared him to a younger Alex Smith; a game manager, but with more of an upside.

The best part? Bridgewater is just 25-years-old. He still has the potential of having a long and prosperous career, barring injury. His touchdown-to-interception ratio (28-22) leaves something to be desired, but there is no denying Bridgewater deserves a starting job somewhere in the NFL.

Next: 1. The quarterback of their dreams

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 31: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 31, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 31: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 31, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)

1. Kirk Cousins

Three consecutive 4,000+ yard seasons. 94 total touchdowns in that same span. A Wild Card playoff berth in 2015. A 2016 Pro Bowler. What else do I need to say?!?

Kirk Cousins has proven time and time (and time) again that he is a legit NFL starting quarterback. He is a natural pocket-passer with the ability to break for big gains with his legs.

The fact that that Washington is planning to stick Cousins with the franchise tag (again), coupled with their interest in Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, proves the inevitable; Cousins will not be on Washington’s roster in 2018.

Cousins will be the most highly sought-after free agent quarterback this season. With teams like the Browns, Bills, Colts, Jaguars, and Cardinals also in need of a quarterback, the Jets face some stiff competition for Cousins.

Must Read: Top 5 free agent wide receivers Jets should consider

Ultimately, it will come down to which team is willing to pay Cousins a Matthew Stafford or Derek Carr-type salary. Will the Jets shell out that much green for the 29-year-old signal caller?

We’ll see.

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