The New York Jets finally addressed the gaping hole in their quarterback depth chart, signing journeyman Josh McCown to a free-agent contract on Monday. After months of speculation about candidates, including everyone from Jay Cutler to Tony Romo to Chad Pennington (kidding), they settled for a 37-year-old who has lost 20 of his last 22 starts.
Terms: It's a one-year, $6 million contract, fully guaranteed. McCown reportedly can earn an additional $7 million in incentives, but the incentives don't count against the salary cap.
ESPN 150 ranking: 149
Grade -- C: Say hello to the Poor Man's Ryan Fitzpatrick, except three years older. McCown is a smart, marginally talented passer capable of throwing for 300 yards one week (he did so against the Jets in 2016) and stinking the next. He won't win a lot of games, but he can be a bridge quarterback, buying time for the Jets to develop Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty -- or a 2017 draft pick. Thing is, bridges come in all different sizes. McCown isn't the Verrazano-Narrows, that's for sure.
What it means: There was no official word on McCown's projected role. It may be advertised as an open competition, but you have to believe his experience makes him the favorite to start on opening day. More than anything, this confirms that the Jets are thinking about 2018 and beyond. No disrespect to McCown, known as a terrific teammate and all-around good guy, but no team that fancies itself as a contender would sign a quarterback with a career record of 18-42 for a potential starting job. They wanted a cheap, one-year rental, and McCown fits the bill. Cutler would've given them a chance to win a couple of more games, but the Jets placed a premium on cost and intangibles. McCown will be a good leader and a mentor to the kid QBs as they attempt to navigate a transition that will be fraught with growing pains.
What's the risk: If McCown emerges as the starter, he probably won't last long. In 14 years, he has started more than eight games in a season only three times. He broke both collarbones and some ribs the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. The Jets know this, of course. This means they're comfortable with the prospect of putting Hackenberg or Petty into the lineup at some point. McCown is only a 59 percent career passer, and his touchdown-interception ratio over the last three seasons is 29-24. In that span, he ranks 33rd out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks in Total QBR -- 44.5. He has played on only two winning teams in 14 years, which means he's accustomed to adversity. In that sense, he'll be perfect for the 2017 Jets.