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New York Jets: A Look at Free Agent Quarterback Options

Two of the three quarterbacks pictured are available. Unfortunately Ben Roethlisberger is the one who is not.
Two of the three quarterbacks pictured are available. Unfortunately Ben Roethlisberger is the one who is not.
Karl Walter

With David Garrard hanging up his cleats, the Jets will have an opening on their roster. As far as I could tell, the original plan for the Jets at quarterback looked something like this. Garrard and Geno Smith would be the top two quarterbacks. Garrard would mentor Geno. Geno would either start from day one, or Garrard would be a placeholder until Geno was ready. Hopefully Mark Sanchez would play well in preseason, and some team would be crazy enough to trade for him. Once that didn't happen, Sanchez would be cut.

With Garrard gone, the plan obviously will not look exactly the same, but the Jets might look into some free agent options to take his spot if for no other reason but to give them another quarterback aside from Geno who can spare the needless drama Sanchez's presence could provide.

Here are five options in alphabetical order. None are great. You might be able to talk yourself into a few of them the same way you could have talked yourself into Garrard.

Charlie Batch

Ties to the Jets: None

Batch was the third quarterback selected in the Peyton Manning/Ryan Leaf Draft. After a fairly undistinguished run as the quarterback of the Lions, Batch reinvented himself over the past eleven years as a backup in Pittsburgh. He's actually started five games in the last three years and completed 62.2% of his passes with a 7.2 yard average per pass, albeit with an ugly 4-8 TD-INT rate. The Steelers have gone 3-2. That includes a stunning 25/36 276 yard performance at Baltimore last year in a surprising victory over the Ravens. I wouldn't trust Batch's 38 year old body to hold up for a 16 game season, but if the Jets are looking for somebody who can show Geno the ropes and be a caretaker for a little while until he is ready to start, Batch could conceivably be an option.

Byron Leftwich

Ties to the Jets: None

The 33 year old Leftwich was Chad Pennington's backup at Marshall University for a time before taking over the starting job. He is a former first round pick who has never really panned out. His time with Jacksonville wasn't successful, and second chances in Atlanta and Tampa Bay did not work out much better. Between all that, he has had a few stints as a backup with the Steelers. Outside of an electrifying run against Baltimore last year made all the more surprising by the fact he was never very mobile even in his youth, Leftwich has not shown much skill lately. If you watched the Steelers when he played last year, it seemed like they designed their offense to avoid asking him to do anything. He's a tough guy. He played most of that Ravens game with a broken rib and produced this iconic moment playing hurt in college. He could show Geno how to prepare but not much else.

Matt Leinart

Ties to the Jets: None

Those of us who wanted the Jets to pick Leinart over D'Brickashaw Ferguson in the 2006 Draft will still pretend that never happened. Leinart has been a bust in every sense of the word. He's also never been much of a leader in the NFL. Signing Leinart would just create a bunch of terrible jokes about the Jets being the destination for bust quarterbacks from USC.

Tyler Thigpen

Ties to the Jets: David Lee was his quarterbacks coach with the Dolphins (2009-2010) and the Bills (2012).

The great Alan Schechter over at The Jet Press actually came up with this idea. Thigpen had relative success pressed into regular duty in Kansas City in 2008, 18 TD's, 12 INT's on a Sanchezian 54.8% and 6.2 yards per pass. He also ran for 386 yards and 3 touchdowns. He's pretty much Mark Sanchez. He just is a better scrambler, costs way less, and was undrafted from Coastal Carolina instead of the fifth pick from USC so your expectations are more in line. If you're going to have a Sanchez quality player as your backup either way, a low profile version might be better than the current high profile version.

Vince Young

Ties to the Jets: Marty Mornhinweg was his offensive coordinator with the Eagles (2011). David Lee was briefly his quarterbacks coach with the Bills (2012 preseason).

Vince Young was Tebow before Tebow. He was the college football legend who carried his team to a championship. His skills weren't a fit for the pro game, but many thought he was such a winner that he could figure it out. Early in his career, he didn't put up good stats but got a reputation as a "quarterback who just wins" because of some clutch drives. Eventually his inefficiency started catching up to his team. He has bounced around the league. There were times where it felt like he was close to putting it all together. A stretch in 2009 and a fourth quarter masterpiece against the Giants in 2011 come to mind, but it just has not panned out for Vince. Once he got to the NFL, he could no longer just out-athlete the opposition when things broke down like he did in college, and he did not have the attitude or work ethic to improve what he needed to improve to make things work. It seems like his best asset, his legs, are now gone. There isn't a ton of upside here, and he doesn't really seem like a guy you want hanging around a young quarterback.