- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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With David Garrard out of the picture, the Jets are down to Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith, plus Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. On paper, it's a workable depth chart for the preseason. Thing is, GM John Idzik is always looking for competition, and he hasn't slammed the door shut on adding another quarterback.
Here's the problem: It won't be easy to find a Garrard-type player, a savvy veteran with the ability to start a few games, if necessary, and the desire to serve as a mentor to Smith. Because they're already one month into the offseason program, a quarterback with scheme familiarity (see: West Coast offense) would be a benefit. Otherwise, the new guy would be a month behind, as coordinator Marty Mornhinweg installs his system.
As you can see, the free-agent market doesn't hold much promise. Some of the top names:
Charlie Batch (Steelers): There's some familiarity here, as Batch started nine games for Mornhinweg in 2001, his first year as the Lions' coach. Batch wasn't horrible, but the Lions went 0-9. At 38, his best days are long gone, but he was 3-2 over the last three seasons when filling in for Ben Roethlisberger, including a dramatic win over the Ravens last year.
Tyler Thigpen (Bills): Quarterbacks coach David Lee is familiar with Thigpen, having coached him last season in Buffalo. Thigpen, 29, showed some flashes for the Chiefs in 2008 (despite a 1-10 record as a starter), but he has bounced around the league since then, barely getting on the field. Thigpen is a good athlete, better suited to a spread-type offense.
Trent Edwards (Eagles): He spent 10 months with Mornhinweg last season with the Eagles, making the team as the No. 3 after an impressive preseason (54-for-80, 489 yards, 4 TDs, 0 interceptions). He ended up playing in only one game (2-for-2) and was released by new coach Chip Kelly. Edwards, 29, knows Mornhinweg's system better than anyone on this list, but we're talking about a quarterback who hasn't won a start since 2009.
Byron Leftwich (Steelers): Could the Jets replace Garrard with the man Garrard replaced in Jacksonville? Leftwich, 33, has carried the clipboard for three different teams over the last six years, most recently with the Steelers. He started one game (and lost) last season. Because of his slow delivery, he's not a good fit in the West Coast system.
Tarvaris Jackson (Bills): He re-signed with the Bills, but he could be in trouble at some point if they decide to keep only two QBs, No. 1 pick EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb. Idzik knows Jackson from their Seattle days, and there were rumblings before free agency that he was planning to make a run at Jackson before he re-upped with the Bills.
With David Garrard out of the picture, the Jets are down to Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith, plus Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. On paper, it's a workable depth chart for the preseason.