Tuesday began with Jets fans in despair, unsure who their starting quarterback was going to be in 2018. The first objective for the Jets in free agency was signing highly regarded quarterback Kirk Cousins. With $89.8 million in salary-cap space and a game plan on how to upgrade the roster through free agency and the draft, the Jets were ready.
Cousins never gave the Jets a chance for a formal pitch, instead taking his talents to Minnesota. According to multiple reports, he’s expected to sign a three-year, $84-million contract with the Vikings, which will be the first fully guaranteed deal in league history.
Undeterred, the Jets went to Plan B and connected with a quarterback who wanted to stay with them and with another one looking for a second chance. Multiple sources said the Jets agreed to terms with 38-year-old Josh McCown, who started 13 games for them last season, and the team is also expecting to sign Teddy Bridgewater. According to a source, McCown was told he will be the starter in 2018.
Each quarterback will get a one-year deal, a source said, and they are expected to be signed Wednesday. McCown will get $10 million, a $4-million raise from last year.
Financial terms for Bridgewater were not available. He reportedly wanted a short-term deal so he can prove to NFL teams he can play after missing nearly two seasons with the Vikings while recovering from a torn ACL and a dislocated kneecap.
So, by Tuesday night the Jets had two starting-caliber quarterbacks at their disposal in addition to the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, which they could use for a quarterback.
Getting there was a little intense for their fan base.
The quarterback dominoes began to fall in the early morning hours when Case Keenum, who led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game, reportedly agreed to terms with the Broncos. With one quarterback-needy team out of the way, there was hope that Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, would speak with the Jets extensively.
But just before noon, reports seeped out that Cousins was going to play for the Vikings. It raised a panic among Jets fans that they were missing out, especially after it was reported that quarterback Sam Bradford agreed to leave the Vikings for a one-year, $20-million deal with Arizona.
But Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan stuck to his plan and targeted McCown, who set career highs in passing yards (2,926) and touchdowns (18) last season. He had expressed a desire to play with the Jets again and said he doesn’t mind becoming a mentor to a young quarterback.
“Yeah, it’s hard to say, ‘Hey, I want to go somewhere else,’ after you had the best year of your career,” McCown said last month. “I like being there and I love the organization and the guys in the locker room. I think it was a good foundation laid, something special, something that can be built.”
Bridgewater, 25, was a 2014 first-round pick of the Vikings, and in 30 games (28 starts) he completed 64.7 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. In 2015, he led the Vikings to the playoffs and earned a Pro Bowl berth. But in August 2016 Bridgewater suffered a severe knee injury during a non-contact drill in training camp. He missed almost two seasons before returning last year and throwing two passes in Week 15.
So what started as a day for Jets fans seeking answers ended with some, which might lead to positive results.