Smith signing with Packers not a big blow to Jets

Akili Smith is now a Green Bay Packer.<p>

The former number one pick chose the Packers over the Jets. He sees a better opportunity for himself in Green Bay with Brett Favre's backup job being handled by journeyman Doug Pederson. In New York, the Jets have a primary backup in Vinny Testaverde who is likely going to handle the job for the next two years. The Jets coaches feel he can do it and Testaverde actually feels he can play four or five more years. Testaverde is 39-years-old, but he's in tremendous shape and more like a player in his early-mid 30's as evidenced by some of the deep balls he launched during the OTA's.

The Packers signed Smith despite the poor workout he had for the team. "During the workout, you could tell he had been out for a while," said Packer vice president Mark Hatley. "Throwing to a new group of receivers is difficult. But the talent is there. He's a good, young prospect."

In some ways, the Jets might be better off without Smith. He is need of a lot of tutoring (and we mean a lot), and you have to wonder how much time the Jets coaches would have for him. Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett's main focus has to be on Chad Pennington, still a young quarterback who is moving up the growth curve. Also, remember the Jets picked a quarterback in the sixth round (Brooks Bollinger), who Hackett pushed the team to pick. Hackett has and will be spending quite a bit of time with Bollinger.

If Smith came to the Jets, he might have turned out to be the Jets #4 quarterback, and you know he wouldn't have been happy in that role, and he was a malcontent, at times, with the Bengals. And if the Jets kept four quarterbacks, they would have to short-changed another position like wide receiver or linebacker with one less body.

One other negative aspect to signing Smith at such a late date is that he has a lot of catching up to do. Signing in mid-June is tough for a quarterback, especially one who is relatively inexperienced. You wonder if he be ever will be up to speed this season. Smith could have used a full-offseason to get acclimated to a new team and system.

So while the Jets lost out on Smith, they certainly aren't devastated by the news.

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