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Who are the QB Alternatives for the 2015 NY Jets?

With the news the Jets are going back to Geno Smith for their Monday Night Football encounter with bitter divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins, I look at who's available next year for the Jets.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

After the Steelers game I felt good about bringing Vick back for another year to at least keep us competitive while we developed another quarterback.  After witnessing what we witnessed on Monday night, I’m no longer comfortable with this plan. One game a bad QB does not make, but Vick was let go by the Eagles for a reason and he was Geno’s back-up for a reason to start the season. As such I think it’s prudent to look towards next year and explore the viable options we’ll have at quarterback.

My thought process going into this article relates to who we’ll bring in as the veteran QB to start while we develop the quarterback. So whether you want to draft Winston or Mariota, Cook or Cato, that’s not the question at hand. Any quarterback that is drafted, should be allowed to sit for a year to become accustomed to the NFL, how the team practises and goes about their preparations for Sundays.  My philosophy has always been that it’s more important for a quarterback to sit and learn in year one, and that patience will pay off in the end.

Mark Sanchez won’t be returning so I’ve not put him in the list below.  Too much damage was done.

Michael VickNew York Jets

This off-season the Jets signed Vick to a one year $5 million deal. At the time it was controversial and many Jets fans were against it for one reason or another. When Geno was struggling, we called for Vick; at least he would keep us competitive. Unfortunately after the Bills game, it looked as though he was unable to keep us competitive and even worse than that, he didn’t look interested. He was slow to get rid of the football, his passes were wildly off-target and in truth he should have been intercepted 3-4 times. During that first half, I actually wanted to see Geno on the field, that’s how bad it got. So far this season Vick has completed 52.9% of his passes for an average of 67.1 yard a game, 3 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Next year he will be another year older, another year slower and he doesn’t strike me as the kind of quarterback we need in New York.

Geno Smith – New York Jets

Smith is actually signed through 2016 at a very reasonable price.  His cap hit next year is $1,368,983 and it would cost the Jets $1,015,310 in dead money if they cut him, so he’ll be here. However do you allow him another year to start as a 3rd year player and also draft a quarterback? There are obvious problems with Geno, the bad news is he doesn’t seem any closer this year to solving the issues that plague him. He still has trouble with his mechanics, he still struggles to read a defense and his decision making is as suspect as its ever been. He doesn’t protect the football and his mistakes happen too frequently to build any kind of momentum on offense. However keeping him costs us very little and it’s not completely implausible for him to develop. He stays and competes for the job.

Sam Bradford – St Louis Rams

Earlier this week all the NFL writers in SB Nation were asked about Bradford. If he were released would you have any interest? My immediate answer was absolutely not. Now I’m starting to doubt myself. Bradford is signed with St Louis through 2015 with a cap hit of $12.895,000 , none of which is guaranteed. So it seems almost a given that St Louis will release their former first round pick. Unfortunately for Bradford he has a torn ACL this season and won’t be back this year. This means out of a possible 80 games in his career, he would have missed 41 for injury reasons. That is a horrible statistic for any quarterback, let alone one coming off a very serious ACL injury. He was an outstanding college player but he’s never clicked in St Louis. When he was healthy they had no talent, when they had talent he got injured. It looked as though he’d made the jump in 2013, completing over 60% of his passes with 14 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Unfortunately he was lost for the season after an injury against the Carolina Panthers in week 7. My interest in Bradford would be completely dependent on the salary he was commanding, if it was reasonable then I would definitely give him a go after what I saw in 2013. The worry with Bradford is always injury related, but if you don’t have a long term commitment to him, then that becomes less of a worry.

Brian HoyerCleveland Browns

I have no idea what Cleveland are going to do with Jonny Football. The simple fact is that Brian Hoyer is a free agent this off-season and will be able to negotiate with any team he desires. Hoyer has been in the league since 2009, but has only had a real prolonged chance to start this year in Cleveland and the results have by and large been average. He completes around 55% of his throws and he throws nearly as many interceptions as he does touchdowns (11 TD’s 8 INT). He’s a risk  taker and a man who’s decision making leaves a lot to be desired. You saw the best and worst of Hoyer against the Falcons this weekend. He threw a terrible redzone interception that could have cost the Browns the game, but then he marched the team down the field in a 2 minute drill to enable them to kick the game-winning field goal. The Browns are 7-4 under his reign however and could well make the play-offs, somehow he finds ways to win.  I’m not as high on Hoyer as some people and think he’ll always be that average/below average starter, but he’s better than anything the Jets currently have.

Jake LockerTennessee Titans

If you believe the recent reports coming out of Tennessee, Jack Locker is no longer in their long term plans. That makes sense for two reasons. Jack Locker is a free agent this off-season and rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger is doing a very good job for the Titans at the moment. Locker has excellent physical tools but will he ever be a pocket passer? He continues to run when he could be throwing and his inability to stay off the injury report will put many teams off.  He has started 4,7 and 11 games over the last three years. When he does start, his accuracy issues are concerning and drives will often fizzle out before they start due to his decision making. He’s an injury prone quarterback who has several issues completing straight forward passes. Tennessee won’t bring him back but some GM will want to see if he can develop those natural physical tools.

Ryan MallettHouston Texans

The former New England Patriots QB was traded to Houston earlier this season after attempting just 4 passes since 2011 behind Tom Brady. After struggling in the pre-season and entering into his final year on his rookie contract, the Patriots moved him for a 7th round draft pick.  In his first start he completed 20 of 30 passes for 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, however last Sunday he completed just 21 of 45 passes and was ruled out for the season this week with a torn right pectoral injury.  In short he has very little experience and he’s coming off a big injury for a QB, there isn’t a lot to like here for a team needing some veteran leadership.

Matt FlynnGreen Bay Packers

Flynn has never quite made the jump that many wanted or expected of him.  He didn’t do it in Green Bay because he was blocked by that guy, you know Aaron Rodgers. He didn’t do it after signing with the Seahawks, Raiders or Bills and now he finds himself back in Green Bay as a back-up. He signed a one year this off-season after serving as the Packers back-up last year where he completed over 60% of his passes with 7 touchdowns to  4 interceptions. He’s really learning from the best in Green Bay and there is something that really intrigues me about Flynn. His career really had stalled after being released by Oakland and then Buffalo but his performance in spot duty last year makes him a viable option again. At 29 years of age, he may be a decent if underwhelming stop gap.