Jets Sign Quarterback David Garrard to Challenge Mark Sanchez

The New York Jets signed free-agent quarterback David Garrard, who didn’t play in the National Football League the past two seasons, adding more competition for incumbent starter Mark Sanchez.

The addition of Garrard, 35, comes after the Jets’ new general manager, John Idzik, had said he’d look to bring in players to push Sanchez, who has started the past four seasons and was benched twice last year. The Jets also have Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow at quarterback.

Jets new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said yesterday on a conference call that Sanchez, who is guaranteed $8.25 million this season, has a “little bit of a leg up” in the competition for the starting job.

“Mark has a lot of strengths and he’s played at a high level,” Mornhinweg said before Garrard was signed. “It’s our job to get him to play at a high level on a consistent basis.”

Mornhinweg will be Sanchez’s third offensive coordinator in three seasons. Hired from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason to replace Tony Sparano, Mornhinweg favors a West Coast-style offensive system that relies on timing and precision in the passing game.

Sanchez, 26, has completed 55 percent of his passes over four seasons, with 68 touchdowns and 69 interceptions. He’s committed 26 turnovers in each of the past two seasons.

Garrard, who was born in East Orange, New Jersey, spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being selected in the fourth round of the 2002 draft. He’s completed 62 percent of his passes for 89 touchdowns and 54 interceptions.

Pro Bowl

Garrard threw an NFL-low three interceptions with 18 touchdown passes during the 2007 season, when he led the Jaguars to a 9-3 start before missing the final four games of the season. Garrard made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he passed for 3,597 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The Jaguars cut Garrard five days before the start of the 2011 season to save $9 million. After undergoing back surgery, he signed with the Miami Dolphins before the 2012 season and was later released after having surgery on his left knee.

The Jets didn’t disclose terms of Garrard’s contract.

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