Mulling the backup QB situation

The Jets are in a pickle _ a backup-quarterback pickle.

From all indications, they’d like to acquire an experienced backup for Mark Sanchez. We know this because they recently visited with unrestricted free agent Mark Brunell and, as reported by ESPN New York.com last week, they’ve been trying to trade Kellen Clemens. One rival executive said he could’ve had Clemens “for a song.”

No one was willing to play Name That Tune, and now Clemens is back with the Jets, who also have Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell. They could be stuck with him for at least three months because, under the “Final Four” rules for free agency, the Jets can’t sign another UFA until they lose one _ and teams aren’t beating down the doors for the likes of Marques Douglas and James Dearth. They did have one UFA slot, when Jay Feely signed with the Cards, but they filled it with OLB Jason Taylor.

The “Final Four” rule is lifted July 22, about a week before the start of training camp. Theoretically, the Jets could sign Brunell (or another vet) at that point, but that is very late in the game to be adding a quarterback. The ideal situation is to break in a new quarterback during the offseason, allowing him to learn the playbook and participate in OTAs. (The Jets wouldn’t make a handshake agreement with Brunell and give him a playbook to study in the meantime, would they?)

Unless something changes between now and then, the Jets won’t have that benefit. This could turn into a dicey situation. When you’re a win-now team, doing everything you can to make a Super Bowl run, it’s bad business to leave yourself short at quarterback. Bill Parcells got burned by it in 1999, when Vinny Testaverde went down in the opener and his backup was _ horrors! _ Rick Mirer.

That Sanchez is coming off knee surgery should increase the sense of urgency to find a better backup. If they have questions about Clemens _ and it seems like they do _ they’d better invest in some QB insurance.