The Jets signed David Garrard in free agency back when getting Geno Smith was just a dream. Garrard was presumably going to compete with Mark Sanchez for the starting job. He hadn't played in a real game since 2010. Then he retired because he didn't think his knee could hold up. Out of the blue, he signed with the Jets in October. The 35 year old never saw a snap, however. He didn't even get active for a game.
I'm not going to mince words here. Having Garrard on the team was bad roster management. Garrard was presumably around to be a veteran mentor to Geno Smith. I get the idea of having a mentor. I think there can be a benefit to having a peer around to teach you the ropes. In a league where you only have 53 roster spots and depend on players to come off the bench to play big roles, you cannot dedicate a roster spot solely for somebody to be a mentor. If a productive player can serve as a mentor and a leader, that's great. You cannot carry dead wood to serve that role.
Young scrap heap guys turn into performers for teams every year. Damon Harrison is one example. In many cases, this is because the team spent a year or two developing these guys in practice and teaching them how to play in the NFL.
People scoff at this idea. You hear things like, "I don't see another Damon Harrison on this team," and "Tell me who is going to be the Damon Harrison on this team." I don't know. Neither do the Jets. The Jets sure didn't know Damon Harrison was going to turn into a quality starter when they brought him aboard. They wouldn't have used a Draft pick on him rather than risking some other team snatching him up had they known.
What we do know is there are certain ways to tip the odds in your favor. One of those ways is to maximize your limited roster spots. That means everybody on the roster either should be a contributor or a young guy with some sort of physical ability and upside. There should be no spots given to veterans who will not contribute. The more young guys you have on your roster, the better the chance you will hit on one. What is a better use of practice time, using it on a veteran who will not contribute, or to try and develop a young guy? Again, you never know with scrap heap guys, but there were certain attributes that led the Jets to take a chance on Harrison. Why not use every resource available to find another guy like that?
People will point out that one roster spot doesn't make a big difference. That might be, but over time the little differences add up, especially in a league that has as much balance and whose rules strive for equality like the NFL. Good results come from a good process.
With that in mind, having Garrard wasted an opportunity for the Jets. Even if it was a small one, it was still worth more than what Garrard provided. The way today's NFL is built, the only good reason for carrying a third quarterback is if he is one of the young, developmental guys discussed above. Garrard is a free agent who should not return.
What do you think? Should Garrard come back in 2014? If so, tell us what kind of contract you would give him.