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Why the Jets gave Joe Flacco a new team before Cam Newton signed with one

Sporting News — (Vinnie Iyer)

Another veteran QB found a new home in 2020 NFL free agency who isn't named Cam Newton. The Jets signed Joe Flacco to a one-year deal, a move announced by his agent. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the contract for the former Ravens and Broncos starter has a base worth of only $1.5 million with incentives maxing out at $4.5 million.

Flacco, 35, is recovering from neck surgery to correct an ailment that cut short his lone season in Denver. The 2007 first-rounder and Super Bowl 47 MVP for Baltimore didn't want to retire and now can get to stick around in the league for at least another season, if he proves to be healthy enough.

Meanwhile, 2011 No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, released by the Panthers in March, remains a free agent and still the best veteran QB on the market. So why did the Jets take a flyer on Flacco instead, given that he also carries a level of recent injury history mystery?

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First, Flacco, who has made plenty of money in his career and once was the highest-paid QB in the NFL, settled for relative little money to keep playing for someone. Second, after his time with the Broncos proved, pre-injury, that he no longer could be counted on as a starter, Flacco clearly settled on being a willing backup behind 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold in New York.

Flacco's deal is similar to the last QB of first-round note to sign. Jameis Winston, the 2015 No. 1 overall pick, went from Buccaneers five-season starter to settling for a $1.1 million base salary plus incentives to back up Drew Brees with the Saints late last month.

For Newton, as the 2015 NFL MVP, reports are it's been difficult for him to accept both a lesser deal and one that doesn't come with a real chance to compete for a starting job. So far, the Patriots and Jaguars have held firm on rolling with second-year third-day picks Jarrett Stidham and Gardner Minshew, respectively, instead of wanting to bring Newton or another viable veteran alternative into the mix.

The Redskins (Ron Rivera and Scott Turner) and Broncos (Mike Shula) are Newton's best remaining coaching staff fits. But Washington has Dwayne Haskins and already traded for former Panther Kyle Allen to compete with him, while Denver is gung-ho on Drew Lock, far removed from Flacco, to the point that it doesn't want him looking over his shoulder.

Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains, who oversee the Jets' offense as coach and coordinator, needed more of a regular pocket passing type behind Darnold. Before Flacco, the Jets' best No. 2 option was David Fales. When Darnold had mononucleosis early last season, their backup situation was badly exposed.

Newton as a unknown quantity to teams because of his durability was never really a fit for New York. Jets general manager Joe Douglas also is vary familiar with Flacco's makeup and skill set. Douglas started as a longtime scout with the Ravens from 2000 to 2014, and Flacco was drafted by Ozzie Newsome in the middle of that tenure.

Is it shocking that Newton hasn't found a fit with any team, even at the lowest price? Yes. Is it surprising that the Jets would roll the dice with Flacco as a No. 2 instead of considering Newton? In their current situation, not at all.