But Testaverde's future won't only hinge on his willingness to alter his contract. Another factor is what role he will serve with the team in 2004.
According to an NFL source, we could hear a verdict on the Testaverde situation in the next week.
The Jets might have tipped their hand late last season when rookie quarterback Brooks Bollinger was given second-team repetitions in practice. This angered Testaverde who threatened to retire if he was relegated to the third-string quarterback role in 2004.
So letting Bollinger take these second-string reps late in the season, was clearly a strategic mistake. It probably would have been better to just let Bollinger and Testaverde battle in 2004 training camp for the backup job.
Now the Jets front office has a mess to deal with.
If the Jets don't guarantee Testaverde the #2 spot this off-season, he might retire before June 1, and this would lead to a major cap hit. If Testaverde retires prior to June 1, he would count $7.5 million against the 2004 cap. After June 1, the cap hit this year would be $3.5 million. So obviously, one way or the other, the Jets would like the Testaverde's decision to come after June 1.
Testaverde's uncertain future is one of the reasons the Jets worked out CFL quarterback Ricky Ray yesterday.
In last year's draft Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett pushed for the selection of Bollinger. Hackett views Bollinger has an ideal West Coast Offensive quarterback because of his mobility, accuracy and ability to read defenses.
Testaverde said recently he's now more comfortable in the offense after being in it for three years. However, if a quarterback doesn't have the skill-set for the system, time isn't going to make him a better fit.
Jets GM Terry Bradway said after the 2003 season that Testaverde will be the Jets backup next year. Bradway has never acknowledged that Testaverde doesn't fit the system, and actually gave the quarterback a new contract last year. But from what we hear, Jets coach Herman Edwards might now feel the same way as Bradway.
According to an NFL source, Edwards feels it might be time for Testaverde to move to the #3 spot this year. Edwards was clearly frustrated with the quarterback, who he likes a great deal personally, during the Jets 0-4 start last year. Testaverde, filling in for the injured Chad Pennington, didn't play well during this stretch.
The Jets could learn a lesson from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in dealing with this precarious situation. Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't care about cap hits or players feeling when making decisions. He traded fan favorite Drew Bledsoe and defensive leader Lawyer Milloy the last couple of years. These were tough, unpopular decisions, but worked out well in the long run.
Expect some news on this Testaverde situation shortly.
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