When it comes to who's the starting quarterback for the New York Jets, the job is Geno Smith's to lose.
From a business perspective, the move is a no-brainer for the Jets. They announced that they cut former starting quarterback Mark Sanchez just minutes before the Vick signing was reported. By cutting Sanchez first, the team saved itself from an $8.3 million cap charge in 2014. The Jets were able to sign Vick to fill the backup QB void left by Sanchez's release and still were left with a net savings of $3.3 million.
Both Vick and Sanchez have struggled in recent years, but they also enjoyed success earlier in their careers.
Vick's recent success begs the question: Are we headed for yet another quarterback controversy in New York? There's been one in each of the last two seasons—first, when the Jets brought in Tim Tebow in 2012 to be Sanchez's backup. Last season, the battle was between Sanchez and Smith.
You could say the controversy started at the scouting combine in February, when head coach Rex Ryan stopped short of giving Geno Smith his full vote of confidence as the starting quarterback for the 2014 season:
When you look at it, there's really no need to [name Smith the starter] right now...We don't know what the deal is. Let's see what our roster looks like and then we'll make those statements. I don't think there's a need right now, with any player. I think over the six years, maybe I've learned that’s probably the best way to handle it.
That being said, it all could be posturing on the part of Ryan. Last year, if you'll remember, there was constant media scrutiny of the "open competition" between Smith and Sanchez. Many reporters suggested that the competition was rigged for Smith to come out the winner. Sanchez's shoulder injury was a convenient cherry on top. That sounds a lot like the 2010 season, when Mark Brunell was brought in to compete with Sanchez, whose lock on the starting quarterback position was never in doubt.
Same story, different characters? Maybe not.
It's possible that Vick has a better chance of getting a fair shot at the job than Sanchez did last year. He is intimately familiar with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's system from their four years together in Philadelphia (2009-12), where Mornhinweg was the OC prior to his tenure with the Jets.
One thing to keep in mind here: Ryan has the one-year extension that will keep him with the team through 2015, but he is essentially coaching for his job again in 2014. If keeping his job means naming Vick the starter, that's something he should consider. It's fair to wonder, though, if the 33-year-old quarterback is truly the answer to the Jets' long-term questions at quarterback.
Having given Vick a one-year deal, it doesn't appear the Jets have any designs on the veteran signal-caller being more than a temporary backup.
If nothing else, it helps ensure that Smith will come to camp motivated and ready to prove he's still the guy for the job, while providing him some veteran guidance at the same time.
I'm intrigued by Michael Vick to #Jets if for nothing more than the QB competition that will probably ensue between him and Geno Smith.— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) March 21, 2014
One controversy the Jets can't avoid: who gets to wear No. 7.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases.