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Why did the Chargers sign Geno Smith?

It’s time for Smith to start over in Los Angeles

NFL: New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, most free agent quarterbacks found new teams quickly. But even as Brock Osweiler and Blaine Gabbert inked new deals, Geno Smith’s remained unsigned — until now. On Sunday, Smith signed with the Los Angeles Chargers, the team announced.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a one-year deal for Smith.

Smith was a 2013 second-round pick of the Jets. As a rookie, he was thrust into the starting lineup when Mark Sanchez went down with a shoulder injury before the season began. He held on to the job in 2014, but things began to unravel when an altercation with teammate IK Enemkpali left Smith with a fractured jaw. Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the starter, and that was the beginning of the end of Smith’s time with the Jets.

He signed with the Giants as a free agent before the 2017 season. Now he’ll start over with the Chargers in 2018.

What does Geno Smith bring to the Chargers?

Smith has evolved into more of a backup, but he’s got 31 games’ worth of starting experience. He also played pretty in his single start last season, which came when then-head coach Ben McAdoo decided to bench Eli Manning to evaluate Smith and Davis Webb. Smith threw for 212 yards and a touchdown with no picks, but he did fumble the ball twice. The Giants lost 24-17.

Smith is a backup for the Chargers, nothing more, nothing less. He likely entered free agency with hopes to battle for a starting position, but the Chargers remain confident in Philip Rivers.

Barring injury or something unforeseen, Smith won’t see any play time in 2018. But the team has no young player waiting in the wings to take over for their 36-year-old starter. Smith is still just 27 and may have the chance to audition for the eventual role.

What will the Giants do about a backup quarterback?

They’ve still got Davis Webb on the roster, and the Giants hold the No. 2 overall pick. They could draft one of this year’s top quarterback prospects to groom as Eli Manning’s replacement.

Was this a smart move from the Chargers?

Los Angeles traded for Cardale Jones last year and the team doesn’t seem that impressed with him. In the preseason, Jones threw three interceptions with no touchdowns, while Kellen Clemens is also a free agent.

On top of that, Smith is a more physical quarterback and it likely a better fit for Anthony Lynn’s offense. Going from backing up Manning to backing up Rivers is a lateral move for Smith at worst, but going from Jones to Smith just seems like a smart move for the Chargers.

That said, the backup quarterback hasn’t had too much to do with the Chargers in recent years. Rivers has played in all 16 regular season games for the past 12 seasons.