Report: Jets eyeing soon-to-be free-agent QB Josh McCown

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

General manager John Idzik said recently that he wouldn't mind seeing Mark Sanchez compete with Geno Smith for the Jets starting quarterback job in 2014, but we're guessing the only way that happens is if Sanchez, the team's 2009 first-round pick who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, agrees to reduce his salary.

According to Spotrac.com, he'll count $13.1 million against the cap next season.

Should the Jets and Sanchez go their separate ways, the team would be in the market for another quarterback to push Smith, who struggled at times as a rookie but improved as the season progressed. And according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta, soon-to-be Bears free agent Josh McCown could be that guy.

Two years ago, the Jets gambled and lost that Tim Tebow could serve in that role. And last offseason, neither oft-injured veteran David Garrard nor the inexperienced Matt Simms provided much competition behind Smith.

Josh McCown should generate a lot of interest in free agency. (USATSI)
Josh McCown should generate a lot of interest in free agency. (USATSI)

Mehta writes that, despite Idzik's comments, Sanchez will likely be released. But a reunion between Jets offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (the two worked together in Philly) is unlikely. And Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who could be looking for work in the coming weeks, is a viable option but he's not interested in being Smith's backup.

McCown, meanwhile, started five games last season for an injured Jay Cutler and completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception. That led to the requisite conversations about him keeping the starting gig even after Cutler was healthy, a notion coach Marc Tressman quickly dismissed.

Worth mentioning: McCown was fourth in the league in Football Outsiders' QB value-per-play metric last season behind only Peyton Manning, Nick Foles and Philip Rivers. Cutler ranked 13th.

Also worth mentioning: McCown, who was out of football and teaching gym classes during the first part of the 2011 season, exceeded everyone's expectations in 2013, including a 348-yard, four-touchdown effort against the Cowboys in Week 14, his last start before Cutler returned to the lineup.

And while McCown, 34, makes a lot of sense as the guy pushing Smith, he's expected to draw interest in free agency. Which means he may be looking for a chance to start, an opportunity that won't come with the Jets, who are happy with Smith's progress, particularly late in his rookie season. Whatever happens, this is a near certainty: Sanchez has played his last game for the Jets.

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