Geno Smith and the Giants have agreed to terms on a contract that will allow the former Jets starting quarterback to compete for the job as Eli Manning’s backup, a source confirmed to Newsday on Friday. And given that he’s only 26, Smith also might be competing to be Manning’s heir apparent.
Smith will have a physical with the Giants this weekend and, if all goes well, is expected to sign with the team early next week. ESPN first reported the agreement.
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Smith is coming off an ACL injury, so the medical examination is no rubber stamp. Still, the Giants had him in for a visit last week in the early stages of free agency to talk about his potential role with the team as well as his recovery from the injury. Smith has said he expects to be ready to play at the start of training camp, which will be roughly nine months after he suffered the injury on Oct. 25 in his only start of the season for the Jets.
The Giants have made it clear that they are thinking about life beyond Manning, who has started 199 consecutive regular-season games for them but turned 36 years old at the end of the 2016 season. Manning has three years remaining on his current contract with the Giants.
Smith’s season could very well be an audition for the Giants’ next starting quarterback, but even if that does not work out, the Giants can provide a comfortable situation for Smith to resurrect a career that ended rather inauspiciously with the Jets.
Coming off the ACL injury, he won’t be asked to play in many games, assuming Manning’s ironman streak continues. He’ll also get to learn from a two-time Super Bowl MVP. In his four years with the Jets, Smith threw 28 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions in 33 games. He missed most of the 2015 season after he was punched by teammate IK Enemkpali in the Jets’ locker room.
Smith might have to compete for the immediate job as Manning’s backup. The Giants also agreed to a two-year contract with Josh Johnson on Friday, according to his agent. Johnson was a Giants backup in 2016, serving mostly as a third-string player. He became the second-string quarterback when Ryan Nassib injured his elbow. Johnson never threw a pass for the Giants in competition in 2016; he was added to the roster just before the start of the regular season and was not in training camp or any preseason games with the team. Manning took every snap of the 2016 season at quarterback.
Johnson, who will turn 31 in May, has not thrown an NFL regular-season pass since 2011, when he was a member of the Buccaneers. He has not appeared in any NFL regular-season game since 2013 with the Browns.
If Smith does sign with the Giants, he’ll be the third former Jet to do so in the past 12 months. The Giants landed free-agent defensive tackle Damon Harrison last offseason and recently signed wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who had been released by the Jets.