Jets only NFL team to carry four quarterbacks
FLORHAM PARK — From the very beginning of training camp, Jets coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan said the team was open to the unconventional measure of keeping four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
And when decision-time finally came over the weekend, there was no handwringing, no drama. Keeping four quarterbacks didn’t add any stress to Jets’ cut day.
“I thought it would’ve early in camp,” Bowles said Monday for the first time since the decision. “But it actually didn’t. It worked out just fine.”
And so the Jets become the only team to head into the season with four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. And they’re the first team to do it since 2013.
“They all can play, obviously,” Bowles said. “ They all can play and we’re trying to keep the best football players. Each of them showed enough in the preseason. We’ll give Hack a redshirt year and the other three can play.”
Christian Hackenberg was one of the easy choices: He was picked in the second round of April’s draft, and it’s way too early for the Jets to consider cutting him. So he’ll sit this year, and try to learn in practice and in the film room.
Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and backup Geno Smith were simple choices, too. They’re the only two quarterbacks on the Jets roster with actual NFL game experience. But neither is under contract for next year, which made keeping second-year quarterback Bryce Petty as the toughest choice.
Petty showed flashes of brilliance in the preseason, and clearly impressed Bowles. Even after he suffered a shoulder bruise in Thursday night’s loss to the Eagles, the Jets never seriously considered putting him on injured reserve.
“It wasn’t a big factor for us because he won’t be hurt for that long,” Bowles said. “He just had a bruise. It’s a matter of him getting healthy and getting back up. He’ll be ready to go in about a week or two.”
And so the Jets head into the season with four quarterbacks -- two for now, two for the future. And Fitzpatrick, who’s hoping to build on his best season as a pro, doesn’t seem to think that four’s a crowd.
“Obviously, there is only one that gets to play,” Fitzpatrick said. “Hopefully I’ll have a lot of helpers during the week getting game plan stuff, just in terms of watching film and more sets of eyes.”