EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There was a time this summer when it seemed that the only quarterback decision Jets GM Mike Maccagnan would have to make next spring was "Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen?" The Jets were going to stink. They were going to have one of the top two picks in the draft. One of those quarterback prospects would belong to them.
Three months and four wins later, the name of the future Jets quarterback is a little hazier. Darnold and Rosen remain in play, but it may take some maneuvering for the Jets to land them. They have options on the roster and can be players in free agency, too.
So it's a wide-open competition to see who'll be the Jets starting quarterback on Opening Day of the 2018 season. Here's a look at some of the choices they're likely to have...
Crazy, right? He'll be 39 in July and is obviously not the long-term answer for a team desperate for one. But with no "heir apparent" in place, it makes sense. The Jets love his attitude, his willingness to teach, his positive influence on young quarterbacks. And since he's playing relatively well its increasingly easy to see him back next season to help groom a younger quarterback - whomever that is. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 5-1
He will likely be the No. 1 pick, but the Moneyball Browns are perched atop the draft and, especially after drafting DeShone Kizer, they could be enticed by a package of draft picks. It will be costly. The Rams gave away two picks in each of the first three rounds to move up from 15 to 1 for Jared Goff in 2015. It cost the Eagles two first and one second, third and fourth to move up from 8 to 2 for Carson Wentz. But the Jets know they need a quarterback above all else. And word is the Jets have liked Darnold for a while. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 15-1
He is probably far more attainable than Darnold simply because he's not likely to be the first quarterback taken -- assuming Darnold actually enters the draft. If the Jets lose out and end up with a Top 5 pick, they might not even have to move up at all. Regardless, the cost will be high to get to 2 or 3. And if they're spending a ransom, they might as well go for it all and grab Darnold. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 19-1
No one knows if the Redskins will sign him to a long-term deal or slap him with the franchise tag again. Given the cost, it figures to be unlikely, which puts him in play for any team willing to pay him $20-25 million per year. Would the Jets pay that? The 29-year-old is the best free agent option and the Jets are projected to have $65 million in cap space (with more likely coming with a few offseason moves). Sure, a younger QB makes sense. But if the Jets sense they're ready to compete with a QB and a couple of key additions, this could get them right into the playoff chase. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 25-1
The Jets sound less and less excited about the future of their 2016 second-round pick, but they haven't given up on him completely. They just aren't ready to turn things over to him next year unless they have to. That would only happen if they miss on their top targets in the Draft, decide the free-agent market is overpriced and then they're somehow unable to bring back McCown. That's a perfect storm of stuff, but it's not ridiculous. In that case, they'd have to bring in a veteran to back Hackenberg up, just in case. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 45-1
He will be 34 at the start of next season, so this isn't an ideal solution. But he could be available if the Chiefs decide to turn things over to their first-round pick, Patrick Mahomes, Jr. This would feel a little bit like a Ryan Fitzpatrick move (albeit with a higher quality quarterback). Smith would have to be a bridge to someone else, of course. And he would also be a costly bridge. His 2018 cap hit is over $20 million. The Jets can afford it, and they wouldn't be on the hook for anything behind next season, which is good, too. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 50-1
He is more game-ready than Hackenberg, which is why he remains the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart. But his four-game audition as a starter last season wasn't a success. The Jets also have some questions about his durability. They have never sounded like they consider him a viable future option as anything but a backup. Odds he's the 2018 starter: 75-1
AJ McCARRON/TEDDY BRIDGEWATER/SAM BRADFORD, et. al.
The rest of the potential free-agent class beyond Cousins is littered with players who are untested, have injury issues, or are just generally "Eh.". If the Jets dip into this class, it would have to be for a veteran backup to start a few games until their prized rookie -- whoever that is -- is ready. Odds one of them is the 2018 starter: 150-1
JOSH ALLEN, LAMAR JACKSON, BAKER MAYFIELD, et. al.
Allen might be a name worth watching because scouts still love him, and a few once thought he'd end up as the best pro in the 2018 class. But he's having a terrible season at Wyoming. Sure, it's not all his fault, but he's not exactly rising above that mess and inspiring confidence. Still, if the Jets end up around, say 10-15 in the draft, he should be available. It's hard to say he'd be ready for an opening-day start after this season, but he might be more ready than the others in the group. Really, though, anyone not named Darnold or Rosen in this class would require the Jets to bring in a veteran place-holder (like McCown). It's hard to envision any of these guys starting on opening day. Odds one of them is the 2018 starter: 500-1