The Jets still don't know who their quarterback will be when the 2017 season begins, but the consensus inside their front office seems to be that whoever it is didn't finish the 2016 season on the roster. Their quarterback of the immediate future, at least, is likely to come from the outside.
Just who that will be is still unknown, and there are many options being considered, according to team sources. There is a lot of internal support for Mike Glennon, the 27-year-old Bucs backup who will become a free agent on March 9. But even if he emerges as the object of the Jets' desire, he could be prohibitively expensive. The Bills, Browns and 49ers all figure to be in the market for a quarterback. Maybe a few other teams, too, like the Bears.
And when demand is high, even mediocre and untested quarterbacks can become pricey. For proof, just look at the four-year, $72 million contract (with $37 million guaranteed) the Houston Texans gave Brock Osweiler one year ago.
For the right quarterback, though, no price should be too high. Quarterbacks are everything in today's NFL. Just look at the teams and quarterbacks left in the playoffs. It's no coincidence that the Patriots (Tom Brady), Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger), Falcons (Matt Ryan) and Packers (Aaron Rodgers) are the teams left standing. Three of those four quarterbacks had MVP-caliber seasons. Three of those four already have Super Bowl rings.
Meanwhile, the Jets' search for their franchise quarterback -- a truly great quarterback -- is now in its fourth decade. There's no guarantee they'll find one this offseason, either. But here are the potential candidates on the list:
Free agent/Trade options
Mike Glennon, Bucs - Arguably the best available free agent, he started 18 games for the Bucs in 2013-14 after being drafted in the third round (4,025 yards, 58.8 completion percentage, 29 touchdowns, 15 interceptions). He wasn't terrible as a rookie, starting 13 games for an awful Bucs team. When Lovie Smith took over in '14, though, he preferred veteran journeyman Josh McCown -- a disaster which led to the Bucs drafting Jameis Winston No. 1 overall the next spring. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan reportedly was interested in Glennon in 2015 before the Jets traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Also, according to a team source, Jets head coach Todd Bowles loves Glennon's arm and believes he has long-term potential.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins - By far the best option on the list, but also the most likely to not be available. The Redskins can put the franchise tag on him again, and undoubtedly will if they can't get a long-term deal done by March 1.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills - He's a mediocre passer coming off hernia surgery and has a trigger in his contract that guarantees him $31 million (over the next two years) if his option is picked up by March 11. That fact and the presence of a new head coach (Sean McDermott) have many believing Taylor will be released. If he is, his mobility gives him value as a dual-threat quarterback, but he has shown only adequate passing skills.
Tony Romo, Cowboys - His availability may dominate the offseason headlines, but he's about to be 37 years old, hasn't been healthy since 2014, and the Jets need to think much younger at this position. He also has a cap number of $24.7 million next season so forget a trade. Unless Woody Johnson gets sucked in by his star power and intervenes, it's highly unlikely the Jets would bite even if Romo is eventually released.
Jay Cutler, Bears - More available-but-damaged goods. The Bears may trade Cutler or cut him, but he's got the same issues as Romo. He's younger, but still will turn 34 in April, carries a cap hit of $16 million and is coming off shoulder surgery which could sour even the scouts still in love with his powerful arm.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots - Will the Patriots really make him available entering the final year of his rookie contract with Tom Brady turning 40 in August? They will reportedly listen to anyone offering a first-round pick plus. But stop dreaming. There's no way they'll even take a call on this from the Jets.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers - The controversial QB has an opt-out clause in his contract so he might be a free agent. Also, with a new GM and coach coming to San Francisco, who knows if the 49ers even want him back? Still, he's only 29 and once led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and NFC championship in back-to-back years. Jets interest in him has always appeared less-than-lukewarm, though.
A.J. McCarron, Bengals - There's speculation around the league that he may ask for, or try to force, a trade so he can get a chance to start somewhere. He remains mostly an unknown, though he teased everyone by playing well in four starts at the end of 2015, including a near-win in a playoff game against Pittsburgh.
Brian Hoyer, Bears - He's 31, coming off a broken arm, and is a hold-the-fort journeyman. If the Jets go that route they're better off just bringing Fitzpatrick back.
Case Keenum, Rams - He's more backup than starter material. He's made 24 starts over four seasons for two teams and he's still only 28.
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina - Opinions on the QBs in this draft are still being formed and there's no real consensus yet on whether there'll be one, two or even any that go in the Top 10. So far, though, Trubisky appears to be the favorite of many. Would the Jets use the sixth pick of the draft on a quarterback one year after drafting one in the second round (51st overall)? It would be admitting Hackenberg was a mistake. So, maybe …
Deshaun Watson, Clemson - The national championship QB sure is a dynamic player who will create a lot of pre-draft buzz, but right now there are plenty of scouts who doubt he's a first-rounder, let alone a Top 10 pick. But it's early in the process.
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame - Though he nearly lost his starting job on an underachieving Irish team, he's drawn some attention and reportedly has piqued the interest of the Cleveland Browns, who pick first and 12th in the first round.
Christian Hackenberg - Despite anonymous quotes that imply otherwise, the Jets haven't given up on his potential. They still view him as a bit of a project, though. Conceivably, he could be given a chance to compete for the starting job next summer, but more likely someone else will be brought in so he can (hopefully) spend a season as the primary backup.
Bryce Petty - He did not impress Jets management in his four starts. His roster spot appears as tenuous as it appeared to be last summer.
Geno Smith - Don't laugh. He's a free agent, but there are worse options for the Jets, who twice tried to make him their starter -- once in 2015 before his fight with IK Enemkpali that resulted in a broken jaw, and again midway through last season before he tore his ACL. His return probably isn't likely, and he may not even want to come back, but it's not impossible if other options fall through.