The New York Jets need to find an experienced backup to assist in Sam Darnold’s development. Here are the three best options.
If the New York Jets employed an experienced backup quarterback in 2019, they might’ve been a playoff team.
Former Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was given the chance to take over as the starter but suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2, leaving the Jets with third-stringer Luke Falk.
The Jets offense wasn’t nearly the same in the three games with Siemian and Falk under center. This led to the team starting 0-4, which doomed any hopes of making the postseason despite going 7-5 after Darnold’s return.
Now that the Jets have learned their lesson, it’s time they find a reliable and experienced backup quarterback in case Darnold has to miss any time. That specific individual is currently not on the Jets roster. Thus, New York will need to turn its attention to the market to fill the void.
Here are the organization’s three best free-agent options.
Perhaps the most logical backup option for the Jets is Super Bowl 54 champion Matt Moore.
The veteran has experience replacing injured quarterbacks and producing wins. In 2016, Moore helped the Miami Dolphins secure a playoff spot by winning two of three December/January starts in place of a then-injured Ryan Tannehill.
Last season, Moore started a pair of games with the Kansas City Chiefs while a knee injury sidelined Patrick Mahomes. He ultimately went 1-1, notching a victory over the playoff-bound Vikings and suffering a close loss to the 13-3 Packers in which he still threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
In his career, Moore is 16-16 as a starter, which is among the best records of any backup quarterback. Thus, if Darnold were to miss time, the Jets could still feel confident in winning games with Moore under center.
If the Jets want a backup who has starting experience, Blake Bortles is their guy.
After the Jaguars took him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bortles spent five years in Jacksonville. In 2017, Bortles led the Jaguars to a 10-6 regular-season finish and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. His team held a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in that very matchup before eventually falling to the New England Patriots.
Despite his successes, Bortles came down to earth in 2018 and was eventually cut by the Jaguars. He spent 2019 backing up Jared Goff in Los Angeles and is now back on the market.
While Bortles isn’t overwhelmingly talented, he’d be a backup who’s started games at one of the NFL’s highest levels. He knows how to navigate the starting role and should be enough of a game manager to give his team a real chance to win.
Bortles would be a definite upgrade to an inexperienced player like Falk and give New York some sort of comfort if Darnold were to miss any time.
When looking at the free-agent market, Josh McCown is a definite wild card.
McCown, 40, spent two seasons with the Jets from 2017-18 and started 13 games during the former campaign. He’s yet to decide whether he’ll play in 2020.
The veteran came out of a brief retirement to serve as Carson Wentz’s backup in Philadelphia last season. In the wild card round of the playoffs, McCown entered after Wentz suffered a concussion. He completed 18 of his 24 throws for 174 yards in a loss to Seattle despite suffering and playing through a torn hamstring.
If McCown does decide to continue his career, he’d be the perfect backup for the Jets.
McCown worked alongside Darnold in 2018 and knows the organization. If an injury were to occur, he would step onto the field and give everything he has.
He proved during this past postseason he still has some left in the tank despite his age. Simply speaking, he would be a reliable backup for any team that gives him one more shot. The Jets are no exception to that.