EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants head coach Ben McAdoo insisted he was "confident" in backup quarterback Ryan Nassib and "very comfortable" with just two quarterbacks on his roster.
Turns out, neither may have been true.
Veteran quarterback Josh Johnson signed with the Giants on Monday, according to his agent, Doug Hendrickson, just two days after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens.
To make room on the roster, the Giants cut veteran linebacker Jasper Brinkley -- a surprise considering he appeared to be in line to start at middle linebacker on opening day.
The 30-year-old Johnson, who was in Jets camp last year and has been on the roster of six teams during his six NFL seasons, lost the battle for the Ravens' backup job this summer to Ryan Mallet. He figures to be the third quarterback for the Giants for now, but given Nassib's terrible preseason performance and the fact that Johnson is more experienced and has even started five NFL games, he could get a chance to take over the No. 2 spot at some point this season.
McAdoo has insisted all summer that he believes in Nassib, who has been Eli Manning's backup for three seasons. But Nassib tested that faith during the preseason when he completed just 41.3 percent of his passes (31 of 75) for 379 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions during four preseason games.
Meanwhile, Johnson completed 71.9 percent of his passes (41 of 57) this summer in Baltimore for 365 yards and did not throw an interception.
Johnson's last pass in an NFL regular season game came in 2011 when he was still with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Not that it may matter much in the end. The simple fact with the Giants is that if they lose Manning, their season is likely over. But they have been playing a risky game for years, betting that Manning -- who has now started 183 consecutive regular season games dating all the way back to his rookie season -- will not get hurt. Never mind Nassib's awful summer, his next NFL start will be his first.
And that would put him in a difficult spot if Manning ever went down, trying to learn on the job and dealing with the expected first-start jitters as he tried to keep the Giants afloat.
The truth is the Giants have needed a veteran backup for years, someone who they knew could at least handle an NFL game and had done it before. Someone like David Carr, whose last year as Manning's backup was 2012. Finding players like that, of course, isn't easy, and Johnson isn't a perfect solution.
But if Nassib isn't ready, or if his struggles continue, Johnson at least can offer a steady hand at the helm. Still, the best solution at quarterback for the Giants remains keeping Manning healthy at all costs.
As for the 31-year-old Brinkley, his release was definitely unexpected -- in large part because the Giants guaranteed him $1.7 million this season when they re-signed him back in March.
He was slowed by hamstring and knee injuries this summer, but he still appeared to beat out Kelvin Sheppard for the starting middle linebacker job. The Giants surprisingly kept eight linebackers when their "final roster" was set on Sunday, so it was likely only a matter of time before one of them had to go.