So much for Tyrod Taylor, Jets fans.
The 27 year-old quarterback, who was the object of much affection on Jets twitter, broke many green hearts when he agreed to restructure his deal with the Buffalo Bills just days before he was widely expected to be cut.
Taylor is by no means a perfect quarterback. While his athleticism and arm strength are off the charts, he is, at his core, a one-read quarterback who does not see the middle of the field.
Still, the former Virginia Tech product produced two solid seasons as a starting NFL quarterback, generating a QB rating above 90, 7.5 yards per attempt, and a TD:INT ratio of 37:12.
Plus, Taylor has room for growth, so getting him would have been a major coup for the Jets.
Instead, they will be forced to settle for a second-tier option like Brian Hoyer.
Or at least they would have been, if the San Francisco 49ers hadn’t snagged him.
The Jets flirted with Hoyer last season when they were at an impasse with Ryan Fitzpatrick and appeared to be far more serious about him this offseason, but Hoyer’s old offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan beat them to the punch.
So what now?
Tony Romo should shake loose any minute, but he’s 37, has a bad back, and is said to want to play for a contender, something the Jets cannot be called right now. Josh McCown is out there, but he appears destined for Dallas and isn’t very good, anyway.
Jay Cutler, despite relentless criticism, has actually been a reasonably productive quarterback for the better part of a decade, but his well-documented personality issues would make him a terrible fit in a town that would mercilessly tear apart his every move. Colin Kaepernick showed the occasional flash last season, but he has been trending downward and his accuracy remains a major problem.
So putting aside what one may think of his political stances, from purely a football standpoint, signing Kaepernick would be a bad idea.
Denver’s Trevor Siemian could be available in a trade and given that he played decently for the Broncos last season, he may be worth looking into if the asking price isn’t high. Cincinatti backup AJ McCarron – a two-time national champion starter at the University of Alabama and extremely lucky husband of the gorgeous Katherine Webb – has played well when called upon and rumors have surfaced that the Jets may be dangling Sheldon Richardson in a potential deal for him. That, too, may be worth exploring.
Of course, the Jets do have the sixth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, which means they could potentially have their choice of the four projected first round quarterbacks, namely Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes Jr., UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky, and Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer.
But even if the Jets draft one of those four quarterbacks, most scouts and draft analysts seem to believe none of them will be ready to start on day one. And while Siemian and McCarron both have NFL experience, neither guy should be just handed the job unopposed.
Clearly, the Jets need options.
And oddly enough, their best one may be staring them right in the face.
When Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan took over in 2015, they did so with the intent of Geno Smith being the starting quarterback. After being drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of West Virginia by John Idzik and Rex Ryan, Smith had struggled quite a bit in his first two seasons, but it was thought that in a new system with new weapons, the talent he had flashed at times – especially in the 2014 finale against the Miami Dolphins – could be harnessed into a respectable QB.
At the time, Ryan Fitzpatrick had been brought in from Houston merely as insurance and was supposed to be the backup until IK Enemkpali unleashed his inner Sonny Liston and shattered Geno Smith’s jaw worse than “Love Guru” shattered the movie career of Mike Meyers.
As we all know, the bearded wonder had an excellent season and nearly guided the Jets into the playoffs before the clock struck midnight and he turned back into Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2016.
Smith was supposed to finally get the chance his broken jaw had robbed him of in week seven against the Ravens until a torn ACL early in the game closed the book on that opportunity as well.
Everybody just assumed the week seven torn ACL would be the last we would see of Smith as a Jet. A sad, unfortunate ending to a tenure that seemed to never even really get started.
But maybe not.
With the Jets’ QB options dwindling and Smith not exactly drowning in offers, perhaps this is a story that has another chapter or two left to tell.
After all, Smith DID tell NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that a return to the Jets wouldn’t be “out of the question.” He also told Rapoport that while he would be willing to be a backup, he still believes he can be a starter in the NFL.
Realistically, given the current team depth charts at the position around the league, it seems pretty obvious that if Smith really does think he can be a starting quarterback, his best chance would be with the Jets.
And from the Jets perspective?
Well, it’s fairly obvious they don’t have much to choose from anymore. Even if they trade for Siemian or McCarron or draft a player at #6, with only the incompetent Bryce Petty and the invisible Christian Hackenberg currently on the roster, there still needs to be competition.
There has to be a quarterback on the roster who has the experience necessary to step in and start if needed, preferably somebody with actual potential who won’t cost much.
That person may very well be Geno Smith.
After a rollercoaster ride in 2013 and 2014, it was thought that IK Enemkpali and a torn ACL had sealed Smith’s fate in New York forever.
But it appears fate may have taken a strange turn.
Whereas Geno Smith and the Jets once appeared destined to go their separate ways, it looks as if desperation may turn out to be the catalyst that causes them to stay together against all odds.
What’s old could very well be new again at Metlife Stadium next season.
And when it comes to the quarterback position, Bowles and Maccagnan just may find that they have, indeed, done a full 360.
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