Jets sign Geno Smith

Updated: July 22, 2013, 9:06 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

It took a little longer than expected, but the New York Jets finally signed rookie quarterback Geno Smith, the team announced Monday.

Smith, whose dramatic fall out of the first round made him one of the biggest stories of the draft, signed a four-year deal for about $5 million. If he had been a top-10 pick, as some speculated, the guarantee alone would've been at least $12 million.

The Jets' rookies were due to report Monday. The team still has two unsigned draft picks, cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, both first-rounders.

Training camp opens Thursday in Cortland, N.Y.

Smith, chosen in the second round (39th overall), will battle incumbent Mark Sanchez for the quarterback job. On Saturday, the former West Virginia star told the Charleston Gazette that he has "a great shot" to win the position.

Smith created a mini-controversy recently when he turned down an invitation to participate in Sanchez's passing camp, fueling the perception that animosity exists between the quarterbacks. Smith insisted they're "cool."

Smith has made a lot of headlines in recent months. He was criticized by unnamed scouts before and after the draft, and he fired his agents, hiring rap star Jay-Z and his fledgling agency, Roc Nation Sports. It was a headline-making decision that turned controversial when it was revealed the NFLPA was investigating the agency for a possible violation of the so-called "runner" rule.

Non-certified agents aren't permitted to recruit players, and Jay-Z isn't certified by the NFLPA. Smith told reporters recently that he wasn't recruited by Jay-Z, although he posted a photo of them together on Instagram a few days before announcing his decision to sign with Roc Nation Sports.

Smith's agent is Kim Miale, a previously little-known agent hired by Roc Nation Sports. She is certified.

The change in agents, coupled with the fallout, probably slowed negotiations, but it hasn't had any bearing on the quarterback competition.

The company line is that it's an even race, although Rex Ryan acknowledged at the end of the recent minicamp that Smith wasn't ready to start. He remained hopeful that Smith would rally in training camp and pose a serious challenge.

Smith struggled during the offseason program with the Jets' West Coast system, a significant change from the "Air Raid" attack at West Virginia.

"He came from a system that primarily was a shotgun system," Ryan said. "His steps, drop backs [and] his mechanics that way, footwork-wise, weren't dialed in the way they'll have to be at this level. It's all new to him.

"Sometimes, you really can't even notice them because when he's on, the guy is absolutely terrific. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy process, but I have confidence that, when we get to Cortland [for training camp], I think you're going to see the guy keep improving and improving."

Ryan revealed in minicamp that he might use a two-quarterback system if Smith doesn't win the starting job. The plan would be to give Smith a small package of read-option plays, using him in a role similar to the way the San Francisco 49ers deployed Colin Kaepernick before he became the starter last season.

Smith is the fastest quarterback on the team, but he wasn't successful with the read-option in limited use in college.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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