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Jets Sign Veteran Backup Quarterback, Correct Biggest Mistake

The New York Jets signed backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, assuring general manager Joe Douglas won't make the same mistake twice.

If you scrolled through social media for the first eight hours of the legal tampering period, you’d think New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas had committed some football atrocity.

Some urgency would have been reassuring, but Douglas’ inactive was by design, even as the top offensive linemen and Jets edge rusher Bryce Huff signed deals around the league. Douglas may have missed out on some opportunities to address New York’s needs, but by night’s end, he made three moves: signing left guard John Simpson, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Despite his limitations, Simpson is a cheaper, better player than former guard Laken Tomlinson. Kinlaw figures to have a rotational role as the Jets try to squeeze upside out of him. Ideally, Taylor doesn’t play at all.

October 29, 2023; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2) is shown early in the first quarter.

October 29, 2023; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2) is shown early in the first quarter.

Taylor’s deal, per Tom Pelissero, is for two years and up to $18 million. That’s almost certainly laden with playing time incentives to shrink his cap hit but is money well spent nonetheless.

Not having a competent backup quarterback doomed New York last season. Whether the blame for that lies on Douglas, owner Woody Johnson, or a collective overconfidence in quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles is somewhat ambiguous. Still, it’s a mistake the Jets did not make twice.

As Johnson bemoaned during Super Bowl week, "We need a backup quarterback. We didn't have one last season."

Taylor has long been a capable bridge/backup quarterback and performed admirably at his last stop with the New York Giants. Although durability is a concern – there’s a reason Tommy Devito saw the field – Taylor played well while healthy.

He threw for 1,341 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions across 18- attempts and was even better on a per-play basis.

Among the 41 quarterbacks with at least 200 plays last season, Taylor ranked 23rd in expected points added per play, 25th in success rate, and fifth in completion percentage over expected. Each of those marks were better than Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, backup options Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill, and most importantly any passer who took more than four snaps for the Jets.

This is a legitimately good insurance option in the event of a Rodgers injury. He’s not a high-variance passer who’s going to catch fire (for better or worse), but he’ll keep the ball safe, even if that means taking a few more sacks than one would like.

Douglas could go out and sign the top free agent at every position of need. Without a quality backup, another Rodgers injury would render them all meaningless. There’s work to be done before this offseason is considered anything close to a success, but Douglas deserves credit for this one.