Geno Smith Talks Possible Return to Jets, Says Being a Backup QB Is Not His Goal

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2017

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets looks to throw the ball during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Geno Smith has not given up on trying to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

The 26-year-old discussed his future in an interview with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network Monday as he approaches free agency for the first time.

"Of course, I'm open to (being a backup)," Smith said, via Mark E. Ortega of NFL.com. "That's not my goal, I don't see myself as that. I was brought into this league, I was brought to the Jets to be a certain caliber of player."

The 2013 second-round pick struggled mightily in his first two seasons in the league. He earned 29 starts but went just 11-18 in that stretch, throwing 34 interceptions to go with his 25 touchdowns. He also completed just 57.5 percent of his attempts.

Smith barely saw the field in the past two years, appearing in three games while throwing 56 total pass attempts behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Injuries were a big story as a punch from then-teammate IK Enemkpali broke his jaw prior to the 2015 season. When he finally got a chance to start again in Week 7 of 2016, a torn ACL ended his season. Smith believes this ruined his opportunity to publicly show how much he has improved.

"My mistakes were shown on the field the first two years, and then me getting better has kind of been behind the scenes," the quarterback said. "The next time I step onto the field, it'll be what they expect."

While his Jets career certainly didn't reach expectations to this point, it isn't necessarily finished. He told Rapoport it's "not out of the question" for him to return to New York for a fifth season.

The Jets have used draft picks on Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg the past couple of years, but both are effectively unknowns going into 2017. Based on Fitzpatrick's struggles, it would be extremely surprising to see the veteran back with the team next season, leaving plenty of question marks at the game's most important position.

If Smith wants to potentially become a starter again, this might be one of the best opportunities.