Tom Brady isn’t the only NFL quarterback that can’t quit football. The 40-year old Patriots star doesn’t want to stop playing and the same can be said for current New York Jets passer, Josh McCown. The only question, of course, is if the 39-year old McCown will have to go to a new city to get back on the field.
McCown said recently that he enjoyed his time in the Big Apple and would love to return to the team in 2018. McCown was successful as the team’s starter over the first 13 games, as he put up 18 touchdowns and over 2,900 passing yards against just 9 interceptions.
It was a surprising showing statistically, but McCown’s steady play also kept the would-be lowly Jets relevant. New York opened the 2017 NFL season with a 3-2 start and held firm in the AFC wild card picture deep into the season. That’s much more than anyone expected out of McCown or what looked to be a rebuilding Jets team.
The Jets are still a strong candidate to spend a first round pick on a franchise passer in the 2018 NFL Draft, but their quarterback depth chart is ugly sans McCown. That could create mutual interest in the two sides joining up for at least one more season.
Should the Jets opt to go another direction, McCown could find an opportunity elsewhere. Not so shockingly, there’s a pretty strong market for a competent signal caller who keeps his team in games. Due to that, there’s a few more teams than just the Jets that could lure McCown back in 2018. Here’s my favorite three:
The Bills could make a lot of sense, as they’re schedule to move on from Tyrod Taylor this offseason. That could also make the Bills a prime candidate to take a quarterback early in this year’s draft, seeing as Nathan Peterman doesn’t necessarily look like the long-term answer under center.
Either way, Buffalo would be wise to bring in a competent arm, whether to guide them throughout the year or to serve as a mentor and temporary stop-gap. McCown can fulfill all of those roles and, in terms of stability, might even provide an upgrade in the pocket. The Bills just finally got back to the playoffs this year and the main thing holding them back has been their passing game.
Adding McCown doesn’t fix everything that is wrong with them, but it’s a solid short-term solution until their quarterback of the future is discovered.
The Jaguars seemingly have their sights set a bit higher (eyeing Alex Smith or Kirk Cousins), but if they can’t get a huge upgrade, why not replace Blake Bortles with McCown? Jacksonville has the defense and ground game to compete for a title, after all, but seems to still be competent quarterback play away from making a title run.
To be fair, Bortles was actually passable during the Jags’ playoff run. However, the team hid him for much of the year and if you want to get to the Super Bowl, you usually can’t be worried about not exposing a key part of your roster. Bortles has not proven he can consistently get the job done, so it wouldn’t be shocking if the Jaguars finally cut ties here and moved on.
McCown is obviously a short-term solution, but with an elite defense and rushing attack aiding him, he might be good enough to get the Jags over the hump.
The story could be similar in Denver. The Broncos have three quarterbacks right now, but you know the saying – if you have more than one quarterback, you have none. Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch all offered upside at one point, but a lost 2017 season showed Denver they need to start over at the position.
Rather than heading into 2018 and embracing another lost season, it could make sense for Denver to reboot the position via the draft and bring in a stop-gap starter. Again, McCown isn’t a world-beater, but every stop he’s been in lately, he’s competed at a fairly high level and kept his team in games.
It’s not like there’s nothing in the cupboard for the veteran passer to work with in Colorado, either. Denver has two very reliable wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, as well as a solid stable of running backs led by the punishing C.J. Anderson.
With a steady passer leading the way, the Broncos could lean on their ground game and a hopefully revitalized defense to get back to the playoffs.
Perhaps the most realistic option outside of a return to the New York Jets could be McCown heading to the desert. This would be so fitting, as the Cardinals actually were the team that originally drafted him. He didn’t get much of a leash while in AZ, but it’d be interesting to see how open he’d be to a reunion that could cap his career perfectly.
The need is there when it comes to the Cards, who watched Carson Palmer retire recently. Palmer was slowly fading, but he was still a very viable starter and kept the Cardinals in games. Now they’re looking at a season full of Blaine Gabbert and/or Drew Stanton.
That simply will not do, which should have Arizona both looking for a long-term solution in the 2018 NFL Draft and a competent veteran to push the current guys on the depth chart.
In the end, I think McCown is sticking with the Jets. He is a great mentor and can still sling it a bit, so he can both try to keep the Jets competitive, and also lend a huge helping hand in assisting the development of New York’s future franchise passer.
Provided the money is right and McCown isn’t too concerned about eventually being supplanted mid-season, this is still the pairing that makes the most sense.