When the Jets first picked Christian Hackenberg, I figured the writing was on the wall for Geno Smith in the event the Jets re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets seemed unlikely to carry four quarterbacks into the regular season. Smith would be the logical odd man out since Fitzpatrick would start, and the new regime drafted two quarterbacks in the last two years.
Over the last few days I have been thinking, and one thought has been constant in my mind. Why can't the Jets carry four quarterbacks?
In the NFL, there is always talk about whether a team is trying to "win now" or "build for the future." In reality, this is a false choice. There are a few exceptions, but most teams are trying to do both. They want to be competitive this year while developing a pipeline of talent to help them in the future. The Jets are no exception. They enter 2016 hoping of making the Playoffs, but they also want to develop young players to build a sustainable winner.
If Fitzpatrick returns, he will be the starter. Who takes the backup spot? It should be the second best quarterback. Now if either Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg is better than Smith in training camp, there is no reason to keep Geno on the roster. The team can let him go and just keep three quarterbacks.
If Geno is the second best quarterback on the team, why not keep him to back Fitzpatrick up? The team is trying to win games in 2016. It should keep the best players.
Where would that leave Petty and Hackenberg? They would be in developmental roles. You frequently hear fans talk about having one spot for a developmental quarterback. The odds of a developmental quarterback ever becoming good are quite low, however. Why not double your chances by having two?
Think about it. Spots 50 through 53 on the roster are going to be filled by developmental players anyway. These are players who will not contribute this year. They will not be active on gameday. The goal is to try and work with them on the practice field so they can grow into players who help in the future. What better position to try and develop players than the most important one on the field?
Of course this is moot if Fitzpatrick does not re-sign. It is also moot if either Petty or Hackenberg looks more advanced than Geno Smith in training camp, which is definitely possible.
Earlier this week, Mike Maccagnan did not rule out the possibility of carrying four quarterbacks. It might just be the best move for the Jets.