Former Jets QB Josh McCown Announces His Retirement

Ryan Chatelain
June 17, 2019 - 2:44 pm
Josh McCown

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Josh McCown, the quarterback who played for a whopping 10 NFL teams over 17 seasons, is calling it a career.

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McCown, 39, announced his retirement Monday in an essay on The Players' Tribune. He spent the last two seasons with the Jets in very different roles -- as the team's starting quarterback in 2017, then as a mentor to rookie Sam Darnold last year.

Prior to that, McCown played for the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. He also spent preseasons with the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers and even played a season for the Hartford Colonials of the short-lived United Football League.

McCown wrote that when he entered the NFL in 2002 as a third-round draft pick out of Sam Houston State he hoped to become a franchise quarterback.

"So if you would have told me back then that I would go on to play for 10 different NFL teams over the next 17 years, I would have said, 'Shoot, 17 years? I’ll take it.'" he wrote. 

"But 10 different teams? No way."

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However, he says now he's proud of the way his career turned out.

"I don’t shy away from the journeyman label," he wrote. "I embrace it, full force.

"Because it’s been one heck of a journey."

A backup for much of his career, McCown played in 99 NFL games, starting 76. He passed for 17,707 yards with 98 touchdowns and 82 interceptions. Arguably his best season came with the Jets in 2017 at age 38, when he passed for 2,926 yards, 18 TDs and nine interceptions. He, however, missed the team's final three games with a broken left hand. Last season, he played in four games (three starts) while filling in for the injured Darnold, and threw for 539 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.

Another highlight of McCown's career was the 2013 season, when he took over for an injured Jay Cutler in Chicago and went 3-2 as a starter while throwing for 13 touchdowns with just one interception, a performance that helped him land a two-year, $10 million contract to become Tampa Bay's starting quarterback the following season. 

News of his retirement was not surprising at all. McCown, who had played out his contract with the Jets, released a statement in March, as free agency was beginning, saying: "While I still have a strong desire to continue playing, my family dynamics at this point are such that I would like to take more time before making the commitment to play in 2019."

McCown has done some work as an analyst for ESPN, a role he says he plans to expand now. He said he also will help coach his two sons who are high school quarterbacks.