The Jets quickly moved on to an intriguing Plan B after being discarded by Minnesota-bound Kirk Cousins on Tuesday. Gang Green, spurned by the most coveted quarterback in the free-agent pool, will be signing Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to one-year deals to hold the fort, according to sources.
McCown, whose deal is worth $10 million, is expected to be the starter entering the offseason program, according to a source, but the Week 1 starter is far from solidified. Bridgewater’s arrival will create an interesting dynamic after the Jets add a quarterback in the first round of the upcoming draft as they’re expected. (Spoiler: Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg will be gone in that scenario barring a minor miracle).
The Jets wanted to land Cousins in the worst way, but there was a feeling in the building in recent days that he was destined for the Vikings. Cousins will be making his first — and let’s get real: only — free-agent visit to Minnesota Wednesday/Thursday.
Truth be told, the Jets, flush with cash and a league-high $90 million in salary cap space, were bracing for this irritating outcome, but it still stung and burned them. (Cousins is expected to sign a fully guaranteed three-year deal with the Vikings for $84-86 million).
Cousins plans to sign with Vikings as Jets look at other options
The silver lining for the Jets is that the brain trust will have ample financial flexibility to address a litany of deficient areas now. It’s curious, however, that the Jets added two veterans given that any incoming first-round rookie signal caller will require sufficient reps to develop this offseason.
Bridgewater, unquestionably the greatest unknown quarterback on the free-agent market, provides a low-risk, high-reward option for general manager Mike Maccagnan, who desperately needs to solve his franchise’s most glaring need.
The 25-year-old signal caller has the oddest of resumes: 29 career starts yet none in the past two seasons thanks to the injury suffered before the 2016 season. Although Bridgewater is young with a pedigree (first-round pick, 17-12 as a starter, one playoff appearance), there are legitimate questions about his ability to fulfill the promise he showed before his injury. Some folks on One Jets Drive still wonder whether he’s fully healed.
McCown’s on-field production in 2017 coupled with his invaluable intangibles (there might be no greater locker room presence in the league) made it a no-brainer to bring him back.
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“I’m excited to be back with the organization and continuing building on the chemistry in this locker room,” McCown told the Daily News on Tuesday.
The Jets’ Plan B doesn’t come without potential complications though.
Although it’s somewhat understandable that Maccagnan & Co. would want to throw as many quarterback darts at the board to see who sticks, will there be enough snaps for the new trio?
Think about it: McCown is the leader in the clubhouse to be the opening-day starter. Bridgewater wants to resurrect his career. The incoming rookie should have an opportunity to play at some point in 2018.
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Would the rookie’s development be stunted with McCown and Bridgewater there? As we learned last summer, there simply aren’t enough reps to go around for three guys in training camp. The Jets, of course, could replicate their plan from a year ago when McCown took a de facto vacation in the preseason, while Petty and Hackenberg got the bulk of work, but this feels like overkill.
Bridgewater must not have had very many, if any, quality options. Why else would such a young quarterback with starting experience and 64.9 career completion rate want to be sandwiched between a 15-year veteran incumbent and a rookie picked in the Top 6 (or higher)?
The Jets slapped a couple Band-Aids on to their most glaring hole on Tuesday, but the problem is far from solved.
They still need to find their franchise quarterback in the draft.
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