Jets fans can now cross Robert Griffin III off their lists.
The Cleveland Browns announced the signing of the former Redskins quarterback to a two-year, $15-million deal Thursday afternoon. That means the Jets have one fewer quarterback to consider.
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With talks between the Jets and free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick at a standstill, members of the Jets’ front office recently hosted Griffin on a two-day visit. The meeting, however, was more for due diligence purposes because the Jets want to re-sign Fitzpatrick, 33.
But during the NFL owners’ meetings in Florida this week, coach Todd Bowles said the team won’t take a step back if it loses Fitzpatrick in free agency because “we have Plan B, C and D in place.”
Though the Jets were complimentary of Griffin, it didn’t appear as if the former Heisman Trophy winner was particularly high on their priority list. On a conference call last week, general manager Mike Maccagnan said he didn’t meet the quarterback during his recent trip to New Jersey.
“I probably haven’t talked to him or seen him since his Baylor Pro Day four, whatever years ago,” he said.
With Griffin now on board, the Browns likely will look to trade quarterback Josh McCown. That means the Jets — along with the Rams and Broncos — could try to pull off a trade for the veteran quarterback.
In March 2014, McCown never made it to his scheduled free-agent visit with the Jets and instead signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His production plummeted that season as he completed 56.3 percent of his passes and threw 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. The Buccaneers released him after the season.
Nevertheless, McCown was one of the most coveted free-agent quarterbacks last offseason. The Jets were one of the teams that showed interest, meeting with him during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. But at the time, Maccagnan, who was just months into his new job as GM, downplayed the significance of that meeting.
“I think I would say, simply, every quarterback out there we’d have an interest in,” Maccagnan said at Lucas Oil Stadium in February 2015. “We did visit with Josh here at the Combine, so we had a little chance for him to kind of feel us out and us to feel him out a little bit. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re actively going after him. It’s sort of an inquiry process we’re going through.”
Shortly thereafter, McCown signed a three-year deal with the Browns. The Jets ended up obtaining Fitzpatrick in a trade with the Houston Texans.
Bringing back Fitzpatrick remains the Jets’ preference. But with no set starter for the 2016 season, expect them to make another inquiry about McCown, 36, who played only eight games for the Browns last season because of a series of injuries. When healthy, he performed well, completing 67.3 percent of his passes. He threw 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 93.3.