Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez may be long gone, but the Jets ensured that the circus would remain in town when they signed media magnet Michael Vick to a contract that suggests a greater role than caddy, mentor and clipboard-holder.
We might never know what Vick was promised to sign on the Jets' dotted line, but the team was reportedly preparing the message that he would be offered a chance to compete with Smith -- and nothing more.
There's a subtle but important distinction here.
When Vick says it's not an open competition, what he wants the football world to know is that it's not a fair competition. It's rigged in Smith's favor from the start, as coordinator Marty Mornhinweg acknowledged Thursday.
It's understandable that general manager John Idzik wants his second-round investment in Smith to pay off.
The problem? There are two quarterbacks that are lead-pipe locks to become lightning rods if they open the season on the bench: Vick and Johnny Manziel.
At the first sign of a Smith slump he will be looking over his shoulder at Vick, enveloped by the dissonant cacophony of catcalls from the home "faithful."
If the Jets wanted to avoid a return bout with the bilious big top, they should have put their full support behind Smith rather than believing they could brainwash a determined Vick into toeing the company line.
Here's what else we learned in Thursday's OTAs:
1. The Jets aren't the only team playing fast and loose with the competition mantra. Three months after the Rams prescribed more carries for offensive focal point Zac Stacy, third-round rookie Tre Mason has been given the impression that he is in the hunt for the starting job.
2. The Super Bowl champions locked up restricted free agent Doug Baldwin with a three-year, $13 million deal featuring $11 million in new money. Baldwin has been an underappreciated asset in Seattle's run-heavy offense.
5. Jermichael Finley's agent told "PFT Live" on Thursday that the tight end is set to visit a mystery team Friday. The Giants don't have any visits scheduled, per The Star-Ledger, but it's believed they have at least reached out to Finley.
6. Among the marquee names steering clear of offseason practices in hopes of landing a more lucrative contract: Vernon Davis. The 49ers tight end is due $5.1 million and $4.95 million over the next two seasons under the terms of the six-year, $42.7 million contract he signed in 2010. Coach Jim Harbaugh shrugged off Davis' absence, citing the voluntary nature of the workouts.
7. Saints safety Jairus Byrd missed practice Thursday to undergo surgery to relieve a disc issue in his back. Coach Sean Payton downplayed the procedure, suggesting the big-ticket free-agent acquisition will be fine by training camp.
8. Steve Smith has a message for any defenders who might believe he's running on fumes after the Panthers essentially paid him to go away: "The DB in front of me will find out real quick how much I have left in the tank."
10. Freshly signed first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix won't be handed a starting job in the Packers' secondary. The rookie worked with the second group Thursday, while Making The Leap candidate Micah Hyde handled first-team reps alongside Morgan Burnett. McCarthy reiterated his intention to give Hyde every opportunity to be a three-down player in 2014.