The Jets officially announced quarterback Graham Harrell has passed his physical and is a member of the team. In a corresponding move, the Jets released rookie C Dalton Freeman (who has been hampered by an ankle injury).
Harrell, who lost the No. 2 job to Vince Young in Green Bay, will serve as Matt Simm's backup Thursday night against the Eagles.
The Jets have always left the door open on adding veterans -- at any position. But the arrival of Harrell adds another layer of uncertainty to the Jets quarterback carousel. On Tuesday, Rex Ryan left open the possibility that the team could wait until Sept. 8 -- the date of their season opener against the Bucs -- before announcing a regular-season starter.
Incumbent Mark Sanchez is currently sidelined by a bruised shoulder joint and rookie Geno Smith took a step back in the race with an erratic performance Saturday night against the Giants.
But the Harrell signing could be a sign that Greg McElroy (ankle) isn't healthy enough to play in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Eagles. Matt Simms, who is fighting for the No. 3 spot with McElroy, is expected to get time Thursday.
Harrell, the former record-setting "Air Raid" quarterback from Texas Tech, was released Saturday by the Packers -- leaving Vince Young as Aaron Rodgers' backup. Graham spent the 2010 and '11 seasons on Green Bay's practice squad before earning the No. 2 job behind Rodgers last season.
Graham threw just four passes (two completions, 20 yards) last season. This preseason, he finished 23-for-42 passes for 169 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in three games.
Asked specifically on Monday about adding a veteran quarterback, Ryan said he was open to the possibility -- but he also insisted he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg were comfortable with the four quarterbacks they already have.
"Obviously we’ll never say that we’re not up for something if there’s a player, not just a quarterback, but any position that we feel can help our football team, then certainly we’ll look into it," he said.
"But with that being said, I like where our quarterbacks are. I think when you look at, obviously, with Mark having the injury, but when you look at Geno, I think Geno has done a lot of really good things. Did he have a rough night (against the Giants)? Yes, absolutely he did. But, again, I feel confident in him. I feel confident in (Matt) Simms because I’ll tell you what, he’s earned respect and everything else. Greg McElroy, here’s a guy, the thing about Greg is he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the building because he is. Obviously, I feel good about those guys."