When it comes to the development of a young, franchise quarterback, NFL teams will often turn to a veteran passer to provide a stronger support system within the locker room.
The New York Jets did just that for Sam Darnold in his rookie season as journeyman Josh McCown was one part mentor, one part cheerleader for the USC product, who was taken third overall in the 2018 draft.
He progressed in his second season in the league, posting 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions while completing 61.9% of his passes — but the help behind him on the depth chart was woefully underwhelming.
That became apparent when he missed three games due to injury as the Jets were forced to trot out the likes of Trevor Siemian — who suffered a gruesome ankle injury — and Luke Falk.
Heading into the 2020 season, Darnold’s backups include David Fales, fourth-round pick James Morgan, and Mike White — another uninspiring group to help challenge the Jets’ franchise quarterback.
General manager Joe Douglas, however, is apparently attempting to rectify that situation.
On Sunday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported that the Jets were interested in veteran passer and former Cincinnati Bengals starter Andy Dalton to hold the clipboard behind Darnold.
The 32-year-old, who has been usurped by No. 1 pick Joe Burrow, spent nine seasons with the Bengals and was named to three Pro Bowls. But he opted to head home to Texas and back up Dak Prescott with the Cowboys.
Gang Green’s interest suggests that they’ll continue pursuing an established backup for Darnold and luckily for them, there are options aplenty on the market.
The largest name that first comes to mind is Joe Flacco, who unsuccessfully tried to take over the Denver Broncos’ starting job after the Baltimore Ravens showed him the door thanks to the emergence of Lamar Jackson.
Douglas was the man who discovered Flacco at the University of Delaware when he was a scout for the Ravens, flagging the club to take him 18th overall at the 2008 NFL Draft.
Flacco spent 11 years with the organization and helped them win a Super Bowl.
There will be concerns regarding Flacco’s health, though. The 35-year-old New Jersey native recently underwent neck surgery and will be out until early September, which is right before the start of the 2020 season.
Among other options is Matt Moore, who has considerable experience as a proven NFL backup and has spent time with Jets head coach Adam Gase while with the Miami Dolphins.
Moore spent last season backing up Patrick Mahomes with the Kansas City Chiefs and now has a Super Bowl ring to show for it.
The Jets could also try to reunite with Drew Stanton, who famously requested a trade from the team in 2012 shortly after they signed Tim Tebow. The 36-year-old has carved out a 13-year career, mostly as a backup, and will be keen on proving he has plenty left in the tank after missing 2019 due to an arm injury.
Moving to bring on a veteran would keep up with recent appearances of adding proven talent for the depth chart. Last week, the Jets brought on Frank Gore — the NFL’s third all-time leading rusher — to back up Le’Veon Bell.