Jets bringing back QB Josh McCown on 1-year deal

New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown will start in the Week-10 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (Ron Schwane/AP)

NEW YORK — The New York Jets are calling an audible and turning to a familiar face as their backup plan at quarterback.

Josh McCown agreed Tuesday on a one-year deal to return to the Jets, agent Mike McCartney announced on Twitter.

The Jets were believed to be one of the primary potential suitors for free-agent prize Kirk Cousins, but the former Washington quarterback is visiting Minnesota on Wednesday.

With the possibility looming that Cousins could sign with the Vikings before ever meeting with the Jets, New York instead is bringing back its 38-year-old starter who had a career season last year. McCown set individual highs with 2,926 yards passing and 18 touchdowns, and quickly established himself as a respected leader in the locker room.

A person with direct knowledge of McCown’s contract told The Associated Press the one-year deal, which will be signed when the NFL’s free-agent period begins Wednesday, is worth $10 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced it.

McCown also tweeted a picture of himself — without any words — in a Jets uniform pumping both fists during a game.

His future with the Jets — and in the NFL — was uncertain after he broke his left hand at Denver on Dec. 10 and finished the season on injured reserve. After the season, he said he wanted to continue playing, but the Jets emerged as possible contenders in the sweepstakes for Cousins.

"I enjoyed my season there this year," McCown said during an interview with NFL Network in January. "More than anything, just the people in the organization. It’s a special place from the ownership down. I enjoyed my time with coach (Todd) Bowles. A lot of decisions have to be made within the next few months, but I loved being there, and we’ll see how it plays out."

With McCown coming back, the Jets aren’t necessarily set now at the quarterback position — although Bowles traditionally opens the off-season program with the incumbent penciled in at No. 1 on the depth chart.

New York is discussing adding Teddy Bridgewater, a free agent after not being brought back by the Vikings. ESPN and NFL Network reported the Jets and Bridgewater agreed to terms on a one-year deal.

The 2014 first-round pick threw just two passes — including an interception — last season in his return from a serious knee injury in August 2016. He was a Pro Bowl selection after his second season and was largely considered a rising star at his position before the injury.

The Jets could also potentially draft a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in April. They have Bryce Petty, a fourth-rounder three years ago, and Christian Hackenberg, a second-rounder in 2016, on the roster, along with undrafted free agent Joel Stave. But having McCown and possibly Bridgewater could buy time for a top draft pick and create an intriguing training camp competition.

New York will have a bit of a new look on offence this season, too, with co-ordinator John Morton fired and replaced by quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. Running back Matt Forte also recently announced his retirement. ESPN also first reported Tuesday that the Jets and former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell were in contract discussions. Crowell would serve as a complement to veteran Bilal Powell and second-year back Elijah McGuire.

Meanwhile, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and offensive linemen Wesley Johnson, Dakota Dozier, Ben Ijalana and Jonotthan Harrison are all scheduled to be free agents.

The Jets also appeared poised to make a big splash on defence, with multiple reports saying Tuesday night that New York was close to signing both former Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson and former Titans linebacker Avery Williamson.

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