Jets anticipate re-signing Martin on Friday

Updated: September 4, 2003, 7:29 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

LANDOVER, Md. -- After all the trouble to which the New York Jets went to locate an experienced backup quarterback after Chad Pennington's wrist injury, all of the hoops through which they jumped in their quest for a proven No. 2 guy, they will enter Thursday night's regular-season opener with a pair of rookies behind starter Vinny Testaverde.

In a salary cap-related move, the Jets have released veteran quarterback Jamie Martin and have re-signed Marquel Blackwell, an undrafted college free agent from the University of South Florida, and a player who spent most of training camp with the club.

Vinny Testaverde
He and fellow rookie Brooks Bollinger, a sixth-round pick from Wisconsin, will serve as the backups for the game against the Washington Redskins. Bollinger, who has recovered from a knee sprain sustained two weeks ago, will be the No. 2 quarterback. It means that, if Testaverde is injured, New York's lone alternatives are a pair of youngsters, neither of whom has thrown a pass in a regular-season game.

The situation, however, is temporary.

On Friday, the Jets will release Blackwell and re-sign Martin, providing them insurance against Testaverde being injured before Pennington returns, likely in November.

The rationale behind the game of quarterback musical chairs: Because he is a "vested" veteran, with more than four accrued seasons toward the NFL pension plan, Martin would have had his entire 2003 base salary of $655,000 fully guaranteed if he was on the roster for the opening game.

New York officials did not want to invest a full season's salary in a player they may cut later in the campaign, after Pennington returns. And so they dumped Martin for the first game, with a gentleman's agreement to re-sign him on Friday morning. While some may view it as a circumvention of the cap rules, it is a fairly benign one, and many teams have made similar moves in the past.

The gamble, of course, is that Testaverde will make it through Thursday night unscathed.

In another roster move, the Jets claimed rookie offensive tackle Lance Nimmo from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had released him earlier this week. Nimmo was the Bucs' fourth-round draft choice, viewed as a very solid prospect, and was released only because Tampa Bay needed a roster spot to sign free agent tight end Tony McGee.

The Bucs had planned to add Nimmo to their practice squad, but the Jets scuttled those plans by claiming him. It is unlikely Nimmo will dress for Thursday night's game, but the former West Virginia star could eventually become the team's No. 3 tackle.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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