Despite the fact that Geno Smith took only a handful of snaps on Saturday against the New York Giants, and despite the fact that he has struggled this offseason, it seems very much as if the New York Jets will keep all four quarterbacks.
Impossible, you say? Unlikely and insane? Perhaps. Perhaps all three are accurate terms about what the Jets are about to do but given what we have in front of us, it does indeed seem to be where the Jets are going.
Of course, the following is written with the caveat that no matter what they want to do now, the Jets can turn on a dime and go another direction. With that backtracking out of the way, here’s why the Jets are keeping all four quarterbacks, including Geno “Boo” Smith.
First of all, there is no way they can cut their two young quarterbacks. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are this regime’s picks, the future and need to be developed. The Jets need them to be developed and don’t want them going anywhere.
The alternative is to sneak them onto the practice squad. That is far too dangerous for the Jets. Sure, 31 other teams passed on Hackenberg this season before the Jets took him and those same teams passed on Petty multiple times during the 2015 NFL Draft but that doesn’t mean they’d do so now.
Especially given how effective Petty has been this preseason (despite coming back down to earth against the Giants), and how solid Hackenberg looked Saturday (admittedly against future Starbucks Baristas).
Someone will grab them. One – or both – are very likely to be plucked off waivers before they reach the practice squad.
So you can’t cut them, not if you want to develop them and everything I hear from Florham Park says the team is really happy with both and won’t risk it.
So why not cut Smith?
Well, if the Jets make a move, that’s the most likely one. However, there’s been buzz from lot from people around the team that they want a veteran behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Petty and Hackenberg having zero game snaps in the regular season, the team isn’t comfortable throwing them out there and 1) watching the season implode and 2) perhaps setting them back in development against a very tough schedule.
For all his faults, Smith has had moments in the past and has the experienced. Plus, and this is cold but very NFL, he’s expendable. The Jets may view the season as lost if Fitzpatrick goes down and decide they might as well protect the young folks and allow Smith to take the pounding.
That last part is really just conjecture, but it wouldn’t shock me.
Now, as we always say, misinformation often looks like information. What is being said about Smith being the backup – or at least on the roster – could be smoke, sent out in the hopes that some quarterback-desperate team (looking at you Dallas and Denver) might call the Jets for a potential trade.
While teams are happy to wait until a guy is cut before they show interest; if they really like a player or if they are desperate, they will sometimes call up the team in possession of that player and offer a small trade.
The Jets would likely love to get something—anything at all—for Smith before they cut him.
So they could be feeding folks like me a line, hoping that the threat that Smith won’t be available will prompt some phone calls. If just to open the lines of communication.
The Jets would then face the prospect of a backup with no real experience under center in a regular season NFL game behind Fitzpatrick. That would be a bit risky and doesn’t strike one as something coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan would do to a team built to win in the near future.
So expect the Jets to keep all four quarterbacks, even Geno Smith. They can’t risk the new guys getting grabbed by teams, and they can’t risk the season with so much inexperience at a critical position.