Giants sign former Titans QB Rusty Smith

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
11:51
AM ET
Because NFL offseason rosters are massive, because their starting quarterback is hurt for the first time and they don't know what to do about it, and maybe because they just hadn't signed anyone in more than a week and we're getting bored, the New York Giants on Monday announced the signing of quarterback Rusty Smith, late of the Tennessee Titans.

Smith
Smith
Smith raises the number of quarterbacks on the Giants' roster to five, which is an eye-popping number for a team whose current starter hasn't missed a game since 2004. But Eli Manning's recovery from ankle surgery could keep him out of some, most or all of the OTA and minicamp workouts scheduled over the next two months, and the Giants need quarterbacks to take the practice snaps Manning will miss.

The list of quarterbacks who can do that now reads as follows:
  • Curtis Painter, their 2013 backup, who finished the shutout losses to Carolina and Seattle and played the second half of the Week 17 victory over Washington after Manning got hurt.
  • Ryan Nassib, the 2013 fourth-round pick who was inactive for all 16 games in what would otherwise have been his rookie season.
  • Josh Freeman, the 2009 first-round pick of the Buccaneers whose one start for the Vikings in 2013 was on "Monday Night Football" against the Giants was one of the worst games an NFL quarterback has ever played.
  • Smith, a former Florida Atlantic standout who was taken in the sixth round of the 2010 draft by the Titans and played three regular-season games (one start) in four seasons in Tennessee.

Not exactly a murderer's row there, but such is the state of quarterback in the NFL in 2014. When presented with a list of substandard options, it's not a bad idea to sign a bunch of them and play the percentages. None of these guys costs the Giants much of anything to have on their roster this spring and summer. They will need to get their other offensive players as many reps as possible in the new offense, so the ability to run drills simultaneously with as many quarterbacks as possible is appealing. And who knows? If Freeman or Smith shows enough, it's possible that one of the newcomers could overtake one or both of the returnees for a regular-season roster spot as a backup quarterback.

So while yes, it seems silly to keep adding random quarterbacks willy-nilly off the street, there are reasons for the Giants to be doing it and, frankly, few reasons not to. I promise they won't still have five quarterbacks on the roster when they open the season in Detroit on Sept. 8. You can hold me to that.

UPDATE: Later in the day Monday, the Giants announced that Painter had arthroscopic right knee surgery Friday and would need about four weeks to recover. This almost certainly led to the Smith signing, as Painter may not be available for the start of OTAs either.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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