May 1, 2016
New York Jets Rumors: Ryan Fitzpatrick Remains The Jets' Targeted Starting Quarterback After Drafting Christian Hackenberg

After drafting former Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, rumors are heating up regarding the potential starting quarterback for the New York Jets this season. While Hackenberg is thought to have a tremendous amount of upside, it is unlikely that he wins the starting job this year. Geno Smith remains a possibility, but the latest reports are saying the Jets are still focused on re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Jets were recently linked to Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Lynch was rumored to be a draft target for the Jets, and Bradford was involved in potential trade discussions. After drafting Hackenberg, it was reported that the Jets actually only had a fourth-round grade on Lynch. Since the Eagles' asking price for Bradford is apparently unreasonable, the trade discussions for him ended quickly. Regardless, the Jets know they need help at the quarterback position, and Hackenberg is not the short-term solution.

As ESPN reports, the Jets' goal for the 2016 season is to have Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback. Jets head coach Todd Bowles recently spoke about the current quarterback situation.
"With Ryan, probably not so much because he understands the system. It's good to get a guy in just to have chemistry, but it's not mandatory right now. It's not soon, but when it becomes mandatory, you like to have all your guys in. We've got three guys here we're working with. We're not just waiting for [Fitzpatrick] to come back. We have guys ready to play. We can only control the guys that are in the building right now. If he comes back, he comes back. When he comes back, we'll be happy to have him back. But, meanwhile, we've got to get the other guys ready to play."
The three quarterbacks that Bowles is referring to are Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg. While Bowles is attempting to sell the fans on the idea that the Jets are adequate at quarterback without Fitzpatrick, he knows that the team needs a reliable signal caller. While Smith was thought to have potential a few years ago, he has not been a good NFL quarterback. In three seasons, he has thrown for 27 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. His career completion percentage of 57.9 percent is also among the worst for current quarterbacks. If the Jets go into next year with Smith as their quarterback, they are in trouble.
Regardless of Smith's career struggles, he is currently the Jets' starting quarterback, according to ProFootballTalk. Jets head coach Todd Bowles recently spoke about Smith and his status for next season.
"Without Fitz being on the team right now, Geno's first-team and then we'll go from there. Obviously we're still working on a deal if we can get Fitzpatrick back. So until that's addressed and we take care of that situation right now, Geno will go into OTAs as a starter."
Not exactly a vote of confidence for Smith. Regardless of Bowles' recent comments, the team is unlikely to go into the 2016 season with Smith as their starting quarterback. For a team that finished with a record of 10-6 last year, the Jets are ready to compete now. While they missed the playoffs in 2015, they have an excellent chance of earning a spot this year. In addition to the Jets' successful record, Fitzpatrick also had the best season of his career. While Fitzpatrick is unlikely to surpass his 2015 season, it is vital that the Jets re-sign him.

There were even rumors around the draft that the Jets were interested in trading for Los Angeles Rams quarterback Nick Foles. While Foles has had success in the past, he has severely regressed since his magical season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Foles could make sense for the Jets, but the team is reportedly not interested.

With Ryan Fitzpatrick still unsigned, rumors are going to continue to speculate whom the New York Jets' starting quarterback for 2016 is going to be. While Geno Smith is currently at the top of the depth chart, the Jets may have to cave into Fitzpatrick's demands if they have any hope of competing for a playoff spot this season.

[Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images]