Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg will all have the opportunity to be the Jets starting quarterback in 2017. But it also isn't out of the realm of possibility that the Jets select a quarterback with the No. 6 overall selection and that rookie becomes the opening-day starter.
"Well there's going to be a competition. Josh is coming in, Hack is coming back and we'll see where Bryce is with his health," said head coach Todd Bowles Tuesday at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix, AZ. "Hack will get a chance to prove himself this year and Josh will get a chance to prove himself, so we're looking forward to it. And if we decide to add one, we'll add one to the mix there whether it's the draft or a free agent.
"But we're going to have an open competition and the guy who will earn that spot will truly earn it."
Only days after GM Mike Maccagnan said all options remain on the table at the QB position, Bowles said the team could draft a quarterback in Round 1 and that prospect could potentially win the job.
"It's not out of the realm of possibilities. Obviously things have to fall the way we want," he said. "We have a lot of evaluating to do before the draft comes up and we'll see where we are with the No. 6 pick and how the things fall before us. Then we'll go from there."
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Bowles and new Jets QB coach Jeremy Bates spent some time with McCown in Miami and Chicago respectively. There is familiarity there and Bowles said the 15-year veteran liked some of the things he heard from offensive coordinator John Morton.
"He can throw the ball," said Bowles of McCown. "He's very smart, gets rid of the ball fast, accurate, but he needs how to learn how to slide feet first instead of head first. He'll go to some Yankees games and learn how to slide. He manages the game very well."
Coming off a professional redshirt season, Hackenberg will face a completely different situation this spring when he returns for offseason workouts.
"He's got to be excited because he's got a chance to compete for the starting job right now, which is what he wanted to do in the first place," Bowles said. "There won't be any redshirting this year. He'll have a chance to go out, prove himself and play."
A second-round pick from Penn State in the 2016 NFL Draft, Hackenberg spent most of his first season directing the scout-team offense after setting Penn State records with 8,457 passing yards and 48 passing touchdowns.
"It was more mentally than physically," Bowles said of Hackenberg's NFL introduction. "We knew he could throw the ball, but his mental reps while watching ballgames and getting some experience from different types of blitzes is invaluable."
Petty started four games and appeared in six, completing 56.4 percent of his passes with 3 TDs and 7 INTs before suffering a torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder during a Week 16 contest at New England.
"He made some mistakes, some key throws, but some key interceptions as well, which is to be expected his first time starting for a couple games in a row," said Bowles, who did not have an update on Petty's progress from offseason surgery. "Hopefully he learned from that and moves forward from there."
Bowles, entering his third season with the Jets, talked about the two qualities he is looking for in the eventual starter.
"I played for Coach (Joe) Gibbs and we had different quarterbacks all the time. The first year it worked out and the second year it didn't," he said of the Jets' 2015-16 campaigns. "We didn't have such a good year so the third year going in, we just have to make sure we have a guy who doesn't turn the ball over and a guy that commands the room. We have to make sure to help that guy and not put it solely on the quarterback."