There are currently 85 quarterbacks in the NFL. If that seems like a lot, it certainly is. It’s an average of 2.6 per team, and of the 32 teams in the NFL, just 12 are carrying only two quarterbacks.
While carrying three quarterbacks has always been considering pushing it in the world of roster management, the New York Jets are doing an especially impressive job of skewing the numbers – they’re carrying four signal-callers as the regular season approaches. Yes, four. In a league in which every roster spot is precious, the Jets are designating two of those spots to players who would only see the field if there is a disaster.
Here is the list:
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick: The veteran starter, Fitzpatrick is coming off his career 2015 season and just led the Jets to a 10-6 season. He always made sense to return as the starter, and yet the Jets engaged him in a long-running contract dispute before finally bringing him back.
2. Geno Smith: The backup, as he should be. Smith was working as the starter while the Jets and Fitzpatrick argued over money, but a position as emergency replacement is about where he belongs.
3. Bryce Petty: Unlike Fitzpatrick and Smith, Petty is under contract beyond the 2016 season, so that seems to be why he is on the roster as the No. 3. That being said, his presence is superfluous given the presence of the No. 4 quarterback …
4. Christian Hackenberg: He’s the team’s presumed future at the position after being chosen in the second round of the draft. That’s why he’s not going anywhere. He’s also not ready for the NFL, which is why he’s No. 4 on the list.
We’ll take Maccagnan at his word, but it’s hard to argue that spending four of your 53 roster spots on the quarterback position is anything less than dumb. It was understandable for the Jets to keep Smith, Petty and Hackenberg around before Fitzpatrick signed, but why they are continuing to carry four is a lesson in bad roster management.
Things could change. Petty injured his shoulder in the Jets’ preseason finale. The Jets could place him on the injured reserve and free up his roster spot to add depth at another position. That would provide injury depth if Fitzpatrick or Smith were to get hurt within the first six weeks of the season.
That is a move that the Jets have not ruled out and are considering depending on how Petty responds to treatment. It’s also the only move that makes sense.
In a sport in which injuries are so common and roster depth is so important, it is crucial to have able replacements at every position. By carrying four quarterbacks the Jets are robbing themselves of one key spot and for no good reason.
And let’s face it, if Petty ends up being their starting quarterback, their season is going to be flushing down the pipes anyway.