New York Jets Free Agency Primer (Quarterbacks)

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With approximately $30-40 million in cap space, the New York Jets are pegged to be players when the new league year begins on March 3rd, 2013. Today, we look at free agent quarterbacks.

It is no secret the Jets botched Mark Sanchez’s career here. Anointing Sanchez the starter from day one, with no competition to speak of, was one of many missteps the they made. It appears that the Jets have learned from their mistakes, as general Manager John Idzik stated that the Jets will look at improving the Quarterback position this off-season. Geno Smith showed flashes that he could be the franchise QB, so we’ll find out soon enough if it’s lip service. Let’s look at the 5 free agent QBs that could be brought in as a backup and potential competition for the Jets rookie QB.

1. Matt Cassel, Vikings

2013 Stats: 3-3 as a starter, 60% completion percentage, 1,807 yards, 11 TDs, 9 INTs

Analysis: Cassel stepped in for former first round draft choice Christian Ponder and led the Vikings to a 3-3 record. Cassel had 2 game winning drives and 2 fourth quarter comebacks as the Vikings signal caller. His best game came against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14, where he completed 74.29% of his passes and threw for 382 yards.

Likelihood: Cassel’s contract can be voided by the Vikings in February. As of now, let’s put the likelihood at a 6, but it could increase to a 7 if his contract is voided. Cassel would be a good fit in the West Coast offense, and he’s completed at least 58% of his passes for four straight seasons. He’d be a good mentor for Geno, and a guy that can step in if need be.

2. Chad Henne, Jaguars

2013 Stats: 4-9 as a starter, 60.6% completion percentage, 3,241 yards, 13 TDs, 14 INTs

Analysis: Jets fans wanted Henne to be signed to push Mark Sanchez in 2012, but that never materialized. With the former Michigan Wolverine slated to become a free agent this off-season, Jets fans might finally get their wish. Henne had a string of 6 straight games this season where he completed at least 60% of his passes, and is only 28 years old. Chad has starting experience and has looked like Dan Marino a time or two against Rex’s defense.

Likelihood: Chad Henne is an unrestricted free agent, but GM Dave Caldwell has said that Henne could be resigned before hitting free agency. With the Jaguars holding a top 5 pick in the NFL Draft and in prime position to draft their franchise signal caller, lets put this as an 6.

3. Shaun Hill, Lions

2013 Stats: None

Analysis: Hill did not play all of 2013, as Matt Stafford remained relatively healthy and played all 16 games. However, in 2012 Hill stepped in and completed 10-13 passes for 172 yards and 2 TDs in relief of Stafford. Hill has a career 61.9 completion percentage and a 2:1 TD to INT ratio.

Likelihood: Hill is an interesting case because it would seem that he would strictly be a veteran backup for the New York Jets. However, Hill does have part-time starting ability, is accurate with the football, and is able to fill in if needed. We’ll put this as a 5, because the Lions may resign Hill as Stafford’s backup.

4. Tarvaris Jackson, Seahawks

2013 Stats: 10-13, 76.9 completion percentage, 151 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Analysis: Jackson is a career 17-17 starter and has played in the playoffs before. A career 59.6 completion percentage along with good mobility and underrated accuracy makes Jackson another intriguing possibility. He’s played minimally over the last two seasons, so he’s got less wear and tear than most 30 year old QBs.

Likelihood: Jets General Manager John Idzik was part of the Seattle front office that brought in Tarvaris Jackson to compete with Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson last year. Jackson showed good arm strength and accuracy in spot duty this year, so we’ll put this as a 7.

5. Mike Vick, Eagles

2013 Stats: 77-141, 54.61 completion percentage, 1,215 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs

Analysis: Vick was named the Eagles starting QB for the Eagles, but lost his job to Nick Foles when he was injured in Week 5. Vick regained the job in Week 8 when Foles was hurt, but Foles regained his job after the game. Vick demonstrated the ability to still be a gamebreaker on offense, as he had an 8.2 yards per carry average. Vick, also, only threw 3 interceptions and had two fumbles lost as he admittedly put more effort on ball security. Vick has thrown for over 20,000 yards on his career and rushed for 5,500 yards. He has battled injuries as he hasn’t played 16 games in any of his seasons with the Eagles.

Likelihood Vick is an unrestricted free agent and has expressed a desire to start in the NFL. Vick had his best season as a professional QB under Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in 2010, as he completed 62.63% of his passes and threw for 318 yards with 21 TDs and 6 INTs. Vick is familiar with Morningwheg, 33 years old, and may be looking for one more shot at a starting job. Because of these things, the likelihood is at a 7.

If I Were A Betting Man…

1. Michael Vick
2. Tarvaris Jackson
3. Chad Henne
4. Matt Cassel

  • Lidman

    Idzik left the NYJ without an true option to Geno in 2013. When you look at who you can bring in, it’s a who’s who of retreads, who generally haven’t been able to cut it as a starter (Vick has had some success). Fact is, if you lose your starting QB, you’re not likely to recover (unless you play in a division that Jim Schwartz is the HC). I really think bringing in another young guy, or keeping Simms (if you think he’ll develop) is a better move. Mark Sanchez should be salivating when he looks at this list. He ain’t great, but he’s won 4 road playoff games. Vick is the only other guy on this list who’s played a playoff game. So, if you part w/Sanchez go with Vick. At least he has a rapport with MM, and similar skill set to Geno.

  • subzero2401

    I agree with Kidman in that there really was no legitimate starting option outside of Geno in 2013. However, the list above includes capable veterans that can come in and compete to start. I believe in all likelihood Geno will be the starter in 2014, but if he should struggle or miss any time due to injury, any one of these guys could come in and keep the team afloat.

  • John X

    I’d be furious if Tarvaris Jackson was acquired. Is Garrard not even being considered here? I wouldn’t dismiss him in light of his admitting that the Jets have already approached him about re-signing for next year.

  • Sean F.

    Geno is the starter!! But Henne and Cassel would be terrific backups. I’m still cool with Simms too.

  • Harold

    If Vick is looking to start I put the likelihood at a 1. We are not paying him anywhere near starter money. Jackson is a cheap alternative I would consider.

  • Johnny

    please no vick. my girlfriend hates the man due to his atrocities (which i am no fan of either). signing him would put a real crimp in sunday afternoon games…on another note, i see him bringing a lot of publicity/distraction to the team which i don’t think idzik is a fan of.

  • KAsh

    “Starter money” is not the same as “looking to start.” Unless a team comes and tells Vick “Here’s $8 million; come start for us,” Vick’s options get complicated. The larger the financial commitment, the more the team likes him, but he also needs to consider where he has the best chance to win the competition. Any team that drafts a QB with a top-10 pick will want to start him. That pretty much leaves the Jets and the Titans, who hold the 11th pick in the draft. To acquire Vick, a team like the Vikings would have to pay him starter money to convince him that they are commited to him.

    It also does not bother me that he staged dog fights. Vick watches dog fights, lots of hispanic and southeast asian cultures fight cocks, spaniards and mexicans slaughter bulls, the peoples around southwestern Russia wrestle bears, I watch boxing bouts, others watch horse racing, and we all watch football. All of these activities are deeply ingrained in culture (and probably biology) and all of them involve cruelty to their participants. But go ahead and moralize one to be holier than the rest.

  • Lidman

    I don’t think any team drafting a 1st round QB, would start Vick. Every year between 5-8 HC lose their jobs. If a team is going to invest it’s 1st round pick in a QB, the HC may not get to see him develop if he let’s him watch or a year. I will be very surprised if anyone pays Vick $8mm. He’ll be 34, his history tells you he won’t play 16 games and his still prone to mistakes. In a back up role, he provides a legitimate threat if needed. He’s had success in the league and that does have a value. I just don’t see a HC risking their job, by relying on him to be their starter.

  • Mark Phelan

    to further reduce injuries to players we should consider having dogs play at certain positions:

    St Bernard – Center
    Grayhound – WR
    Doberman – LB

    don’t know any others…

  • Dalbin

    Thank you guys for reading. This is a conversation that the Jets, and Jets fans, will debate over the next couple of months.

    @Lidman: Rex didn’t leave the Jets with any other option when he inserted Sanchez in the preseason. Whether that was a call from Idzik, we’ll never know. Sanchez is arguably better, and has more upside, than any of these guys so I do agree that he can’t wait to hit free agency.

    @SubZero2401: I agree. I think a concern w/ the Jets the last 5 years has been that there was no veteran behind the kid QB to come in and just calm things down. Any of these guys can do that.

    @JohnX: I don’t think Garrard merits any consideration because he’s more of a Brunell player/coach/mentor at this point in his career.

    @SeanF: Henne would be a solid addition and a good fit in Marty’s offense.

    @Harold: I don’t think anyone’s paying Vick “starter money”, but I think he’d prefer the opportunity to compete for a job rather than sign for the minimum as a backup.

    @Johnny: It’s my opinion that Vick paid his debt to society and has been an advocate for animal rights since his release from prison. If he doesn’t sign here, I’d hope it’s because of his abilities as a football player.

    @Kash: I agree on both points. Vick’s options are limited.

    @Lidman: I agree. I don’t see it, but you never know.

    @Mark: Golden Retriever at Wide Receiver practically rolls off your tongue.

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  • Frank Antonelli

    @Lidman. Unlike Kash you’re a genius!

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  • ShriekMan

    How about Josh McCown? He played pretty well in Cutler’s absence. I think he is a free agent too.

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  • Dan in RI

    Josh McCown is my favorite amongst the free agent QB’s. Experienced, and a good fall-back option if Geno takes a step backward instead of a big step forward. I wouldn’t touch Vick with a ten foot pole for a lot of reasons–take him and you have a full-blown “QB controversy”, then add in the money he will command, his tendency towards injury, and his past baggage (there are a lot more dog fans than Vick fans in NY/NJ).

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