In the span of an hour or two last Friday, the New York Giants agreed to terms with backup quarterbacks. Backups, as in more than one. They added Josh Johnson and Geno Smith to the mix behind starter Eli Manning.
For the first time in three years, the Giants will have some sort of real quarterback competition this summer. Johnson and Smith will duke it out for the right to hold the clipboard and almost certainly never play behind the indestructible Manning, who has never missed a start in his 13-year NFL career.
The contracts will speak volumes, but it’s doubtful that Smith or Johnson received enough guaranteed money to influence the decision. It will be about letting the better quarterback win.
If it's Smith, maybe the Giants will look at him as a piece for their future. If not, then it was a short-term marriage with little risk.
Here's a look at the Smith signing:
Terms: One year
Grade -- C: This move shouldn’t move the meter much. How much of an impact will Smith have with the Giants this season? The answer is probably not much. He is recovering from a serious injury and is in need of career rehab. That appears to be what he’s looking for with this one-year Giants deal. It’s an opportunity for him to work and learn behind Manning, an ultimate professional, in a stable atmosphere where the pressure and expectations on Smith are minimal in comparison to what he experienced with the Jets.
What it means: The Giants appear set to have a serious backup quarterback competition this summer between Smith and Johnson, who re-signed with the team late last week. Neither Smith nor Johnson likely received any sort of extraordinary guarantee that would preclude being released prior to the season based on performance. The Giants did this several years back with Josh Freeman, who once threw 27 touchdown passes in a season. Smith has thrown 28 touchdown passes in four seasons since being a second-round pick in the draft.
What’s the risk? Smith has experienced his share of incidents before and since entering the NFL. Strange situations seem to follow him, culminating with a punch from then-teammate IK Enemkpali that broke Smith's jaw. The Giants had a strong locker room last season, and coach Ben McAdoo has talked plenty about finding the right mix with “talented men of integrity.” They’re betting that the addition of Smith will not seriously alter this despite the Giants' locker room becoming “Jets East” with the addition of Smith, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive tackle Damon Harrison. There is also the possibility that Smith isn’t the same player or isn’t able to sufficiently improve as he returns from a serious knee injury.