After missing out on prized free agent Kirk Cousins, the New York Jets addressed their gaping hole at quarterback by adding two veterans on Tuesday — Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown, league sources told ESPN.
Bridgewater, formerly a Minnesota Vikings starter, agreed to a one-year contract, a source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. He will sign after 4 p.m. Wednesday, the start of the new league year.
Hours earlier, the Jets re-signed McCown, their 2017 starter, to a one-year contract that will pay him $10 million, according to a source. McCown was told he will go into training camp as the starter, a source said.
“I’m excited to be back with this organization and continuing building on the chemistry in this locker room,” McCown said in a text to ESPN.
McCown and Bridgewater will be joined by another new face in the backfield, former Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Jets may not be done at the quarterback position. Because McCown and Bridgewater are signed for only one year, they will strongly consider a quarterback with the sixth pick in the draft. Holdovers Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty could be out of jobs once the overhaul is complete.
Bridgewater, 25, said recently he still considers himself a starter, which will make for a spirited competition in training camp. He was considered a rising star in the NFL ahead of a gruesome dislocated knee injury sustained during a Vikings non-contact drill just before the 2016 season.
He was sidelined for 14 months during his recovery and placed on the PUP list, where he spent the first six weeks of the 2017 season. He was medically cleared to return to practice and, from Weeks 10-17, served as the backup to Case Keenum. The only game action he saw last season came in the fourth quarter of a blowout victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Vikings chose to not toll Bridgewater’s rookie contract, thus allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Jets identified Bridgewater and McCown as their Plan B option before they entered into talks with Cousins.
In 2017, McCown set career marks for completions (267), yards (2,926) and touchdown passes (18). He also tied for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns. He posted a passer rating higher than 100 in eight games, the second most by a Jets quarterback in a single season.
McCown’s season ended prematurely after he suffered a fractured left (non-throwing) hand, which required surgery, in a Week 14 loss to the Denver Broncos. Despite the abbreviated campaign, McCown was voted team MVP by his Jets teammates. They went 5-8 with him in the lineup — and failed to win a game after his injury.
McCown, who turns 39 on July 4, is the ultimate journeyman, having played for eight different teams since entering the league in 2002. McCown, Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney were the only players from the 2002 draft still playing in 2017.
He is 23-50 as a starter over his career, with 17,168 passing yards, 97 touchdown passes and 78 interceptions.
Crowell, 25, gained 3,118 yards in four seasons with the Browns, but he didn’t become the team’s primary back until the past two seasons. He rushed for 853 yards with an average of 4.1 yards per carry last season. He posted slightly better numbers in 2016, rushing for 952 yards while averaging 4.8 yards per attempt.
Crowell is one of only six NFL backs with at least 150 carries in each of the past two seasons to average 4.0 yards or more per carry, joining Devonta Freeman, Jordan Howard, Ezekiel Elliott, Mark Ingram and Le’Veon Bell.
His overall production was limited by the number of carries he received as he shared time with Duke Johnson in the Browns’ backfield. Crowell, who did not have a game with 20 rushing attempts over the past two seasons, ranked 12th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.47) during that span, but ranked 17th in overall carries (404).
He and coach Hue Jackson got into a public spat after he had only five rushing attempts in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens last season, including just one carry after he ripped off a 59-yard run in the second quarter. At that point, it seemed clear that Crowell would test the free-agent market and find a new team in 2018.
ESPN’s Pat McManamon and Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.