Jets Sign Vinny Testaverde to Replace Injured Pennington at QB

Apparently rethinking the wisdom of re-signing Quincy Carter, the New York Jets have signed another of the string of quarterbacks unable to follow Troy Aikman in Dallas, the geriatric Vinny Testaverde.

Blast from past: Jets turn to Testaverde at QB (ESPN)

Just one day after apprising Vinny Testaverde in a telephone call that they would likely go in a different direction as they scramble to address a quarterback situation suddenly in crisis mode, the New York Jets on Tuesday reversed field and signed the veteran passer, who will begin practicing with the team this week.

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Testaverde, who started 15 games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, will begin his second stint with the Jets. The Long Island native played with the team from 1998-2003, starting in 57 games in that stretch. For his career, the 18-year veteran has appeared in 217 games and started in 204 of them. He has completed 3,631 of 6,420 passes for 44,475 yards, with 268 touchdown passes and 255 interceptions. With the Cowboys in 2004, Testaverde threw for 3,532 yards, with 17 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.

On Monday, cognizant of the injuries to Pennington and Fiedler, both of which occurred in Sunday’s overtime loss to Jacksonville, Testaverde phoned head coach Herm Edwards to offer his services. Although not completely rebuffed, Testaverde was told that the club was considering other alternatives, and would likely sign a quarterback who had been in an NFL training camp this summer. By Tuesday, though, Jets officials had decided Testaverde offered the best opportunity for winning this season. Details of the contract he signed were not yet available. He is expected to meet with Jets coaches on Tuesday to begin reviewing the playbook.

While he comes with some drawbacks — notably a lack of mobility and a propensity for turnovers — Testaverde might actually be a good fit for the offense installed this summer by new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. The design calls for a more vertical passing game than the Jets have featured in recent seasons, with the ball going deeper up the field, and Testaverde still has solid arm strength.

There was some thought this spring, with Pennington coming off extensive surgery to his right shoulder and having experienced injuries that forced him to miss time in both 2003 and 2004, that the Jets might sign Testaverde as an insurance policy. The team opted for the younger Fiedler instead and Testaverde was not in any team’s camp this summer.

In addition to his first tenure with the Jets, Testaverde, the first overall pick in the 1987 draft, has played with Tampa Bay (1987-1992), Cleveland (1993-95), Baltimore (1996-1997) and Dallas (2004).

Even as the Jets completed the deal with Testaverde, who can essentially drive to work every day now, the team was still considering other option to bolster the depth chart. The Jets are scheduled to audition three veteran free agent quarterbacks — Doug Johnson, Jesse Palmer and Jonathan Quinn — on Tuesday and a team official said they could bring in three or four more before the end of the week. It is possible, after Andrews examines Pennington and Fiedler on Tuesday, and renders an opinion on their shoulder injuries, that New York might be forced to add another quarterback beyond just Testaverde.

Several league sources told ESPN.com that the Jets have inquired about the availability of former Washington starter Patrick Ramsey, demoted two weeks ago, but were told by the Redskins they will not trade him. League sources also confirmed Tuesday morning that the Jets have had no discussions with Tennessee about the possibility of trading for Titans backup Billy Volek, widely viewed as one of the top No. 2 quarterbacks in the league. Volek played under Heimerdinger in Tennessee and knows the offense well.

All jokes aside, Testaverde had a solid year under unfavorable circumstances with the Cowboys last year and he definitely seems the best available option. Indeed, I’d rate him as a better short term answer than Patrick Ramsey at a fraction of the price.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. stranger says:

    Hey, who called it? Me!

    Pennington might never be back. Two rotator cuff injuries inside a year is unprecented.

  2. Josh Cohen says:

    It’s too bad for Jets fans that Fiedler went down. From 1999-2003, he was one of the winningest QBs in the NFL, despite his drawbacks (propensity to throw interceptions when airing it out). And he was willing to block, too — he threw a terrific block in one game a couple years ago, blocking Hugh Douglas (!!) so that Ricky Williams could get into the end zone.

    At least Testaverde will keep the fantasy value of Curtis Martin high, because teams will have to respect his throwing ability. Still, if I had L. Coles (couldn’t spell his first name to save my life), I might start looking to deal him.