ORLANDO - Mike Maccagnan isn't quite ready to give up on Christian Hackenberg just yet, even though the Jets are about to have a big logjam at quarterback.
Todd Bowles, though, sounds like a coach who has already decided to move on.
Bowles gave the Jets' 2016 second-round pick about as lukewarm an endorsement as possible on Tuesday morning when he was asked about him at the annual NFL Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Owners Meetings.
"He's a quarterback on our team," Bowles said. "Everybody's subject to competition and earning the job or not earning the job. Christian's on our team. Regardless of who we bring in or how we bring him in, the competition has to be there for everybody."
It's hard to envision Hackenberg, the 51st overall pick in 2016, as part of any competition in the Jets' quarterback rotation. They have re-signed veteran Josh McCown, and Bowles has already anointed him the Jets' training camp starter. They also signed 25-year-old Teddy Bridgewater, and according to multiple team sources, they intend to draft another quarterback with the third overall pick in next month's NFL draft.
That leaves the 23-year-old Hackenberg on the outside, along with Bryce Petty, the Jets' fourth-round pick in 2015. At best, they'll battle through the spring mini-camps for a spot as the fourth quarterback in training camp - assuming the Jets bring four quarterbacks to camp.
Bringing four quarterbacks is likely, though, given the fact that Bridgewater is still rehabbing from the knee injury that cost him almost all of the last two seasons. Also, Maccagnan didn't sound eager to give up on what is shaping up to be one of the worst draft choices in his tenure as Jets general manager. And he still believes Hackenberg could have some value, though it's hard to see any team trying to acquire him in a trade.
"Depending on what happens in the draft, we'll have a plan in place," Maccagnan said on Monday. "We'll see how Teddy comes along and I think we'll figure out ways to make sure everybody gets the reps they need. Quarterbacks are a bit of a commodity in this business, so we'll see how it all unfolds."
As for Hackenberg, if his Jets' career is almost over, it can hardly be a surprise. He hasn't taken a regular season snap in his two seasons, and he had clearly fallen out of favor with the coaching staff after he was unable to beat out Petty for the backup job last summer. Things were so bad that despite an injury to McCown near the end of the Jets' 5-11 season last year, Bowles didn't try to get Hackenberg in even for just a couple of snaps.
His failure to develop into a viable NFL player is why the Jets were forced to make a big push for free agent Kirk Cousins, and why they then turned to a "Plan B" at quarterback that didn't include Hackenberg at all. It seems inevitable that Hackenberg will be cut in the next few months. And if his two-year career ends without a single regular-season snaps, he'll have to go down as one of the worst Jets draft picks of all time.
I would say simply this: We still have a lot of things to happen before we get to that point," Maccagnan said. "I know he spent a lot of time this offseason working so I'm kind of excited to see him come back. But again, depending on how Teddy comes along and what happens in the draft, I wouldn't necessarily rule anything in or anything out at this point in time."