Jets sign veteran QB Brunell to 2-year deal

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NEW YORK (AP) - The Jets signed veteran quarterback Mark Brunell, who backed up Drew Brees last season for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, to a two-year contract Wednesday.

The move had been expected for several months as New York sought an experienced quarterback to serve as a backup to Mark Sanchez. The Jets couldn’t sign Brunell until free agency restrictions were lifted last week on the final eight playoff teams.

He worked out for the Jets a few months ago and then a second time Wednesday, before they signed him later in the day.

Brunell, 39, played the last two years in New Orleans and the previous four with Washington after nine years with Jacksonville. The three-time Pro Bowl selection spent his first two years as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay.

The Jets had Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell as backups last year, and at least one will likely be cut before training camp.

New York, which made it to the AFC championship game last season, was limited by the NFL’s “Final Eight” and “Final Four” plans. Until last week, the Jets were not allowed to sign an unrestricted free agent until one of their own signed elsewhere. When kicker Jay Feely signed with Arizona in April, the Jets used that opportunity to bring in Jason Taylor.

Brunell reportedly filed for bankruptcy last month because of failed real estate and other investments. The Florida Times-Union recently reported that Brunell owes $24.7 million in debts.

He has thrown for 31,928 yards and 182 touchdowns in 18 NFL seasons. Brunell was the 1997 Pro Bowl MVP, and shares the NFL record for most consecutive completions in a single game with 22, set in 2006 with Washington.

Brunell has started just one game in the last three seasons _ the Saints‘ regular-season finale last year _ but the Jets aren’t looking for him to play much, if at all. He was brought to New York mainly to be a mentor to Sanchez, the second-year quarterback who helped lead the Jets to the AFC championship game as a rookie.

With 15 regular-season NFL starts, Sanchez had more experience than all three of his previous backups combined.

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