With three backup quarterbacks on the roster and not one bonafide starter – following the surprising second round selection of Penn St. quarterback Christian Hackenberg last night – the New York Jets seem like they’d be desperate for a proven veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead their team at QB next season.
However, GM Mike Maccagnan told the media last night, as reported by Jets Wire, that that might not be the case, with the potential for Hackenberg under center when the season starts.
“We’ll see where [Hackenberg]’s at when he comes in. I’m going to let that play itself out over time.” Maccagnan said at a press conference following the conclusion of the third round. “Obviously, he has a lot of physical ability in terms of arm strength, athletic ability and size. He’s a prototype from that standpoint.”
The quarterback plot certainly thickened for the NY Jets following the second night of the NFL Draft and the Christian Hackenberg selection. With ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting via Twitter that the Jets haven’t been in contact with Ryan Fitzpatrick for “weeks,” it’s now widely speculated the Jets could be ready to move on from the stalemate they’ve been locked in with Fitzpatrick since NFL free agency began last month.
Last time Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick had any meaningful talks was, in words of one source, “weeks ago.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 30, 2016
In fact, according to the NY Daily News, Bowles called backup Geno Smith the presumed starter when OTAs begin, and not Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“Geno is first team. We’re still working to bring Fitzpatrick back. Geno will go into OTAs as the starter.”
The issue with Fitzpatrick stems from his agents’ contract demands versus what Jets GM Mike Maccagnan is willing to offer. Reportedly, there is a contract worth about $7 to $8 million on the table for Fitzpatrick, which is almost twice what he was making last season with the team.
However, coming off a career year in which Fitzpatrick threw for 31 TDs and almost 4,000 yards, coupled with outrageous contracts for free agent quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford, Ryan’s agents (and presumably the QB himself) feel he’s worth just as much as the $18 million in guaranteed money being shelled out for the aforementioned starters.
The Jets, meanwhile, see Fitzpatrick as the ideal bridge to Hackenberg. Bowles acknowledged that if Ryan was to re-sign with the team that he would trump the other quarterbacks on the roster.
“If we get Ryan back, he’s our starter going in,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Obviously, Ryan earned it from last year, and it’s going to be hard to take it from him. Everybody else falls in, and let the competition work itself out.”
ESPN’s Rich Cimini also speculates that Maccagnan and the Jets are not interested in carrying more than three quarterbacks on the roster either.
“The Jets aren’t likely to go into the season with four quarterbacks on the roster. Maccagnan insisted the decision to pick Hackenberg wasn’t an indictment of the other quarterbacks; the Jets simply picked the best player available.”
Still, there is a lot of speculation as to whether or not Hackenberg is the answer long term. His freshman year was his most dazzling effort with his numbers steadily declining his sophomore and junior year. His production decline has been attributed to the coaching change that saw then coach Bill O’Brien leave for the NFL, and a porous offensive line that allowed a significant number of sacks.
Only time will tell if the Christian Hackenberg draft pick will be boom or bust, and whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the one teaching him how to play quarterback in the NFL.
[Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]