The New York Jets have a major question at quarterback this offseason, as the team has not yet re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a contract. If the team doesn’t bring back Fitzpatrick on a deal, the Jets could consider drafting a player like Connor Cook or Christian Hackenberg to develop as a starter.
The situation with Fitzpatrick is a tough one for the Jets, as the team wants to bring back the quarterback, but only at the right price. Fitzpatrick isn’t doing anything wrong by holding out for more money, since he had a great season in 2015 and deserves to cash in on it if he can. But with quarterback situations dwindling around the league, Fitzpatrick may not have many better options than taking what the Jets are offering.
The Jets and Fitzpatrick are reportedly “far apart” in talks and that could continue as the draft gets closer. The team has met with Robert Griffin III in free agency, and reports have the team scouting quarterbacks ahead of the draft. Fitzpatrick had a career season last year while throwing for 31 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards, but the Jets do not want to overpay to bring back the quarterback. Newly signed running back Matt Forte is hoping that Fitzpatrick does return.
“Based off last year’s production, and the way Brandon (Marshall) has talked about the chemistry he’s built with Ryan, I would expect and hope it would be him, just based off what they had last year,” Forte said.
Even if the team does re-sign Fitzpatrick, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to target another quarterback. Geno Smith had the chance to start last season, but he showed his immaturity with the IK Enemkpali situation. Smith still could develop into a solid starter, but the Jets can’t count on that right now. Bryce Petty has potential as well, but clearly he is not ready to start, or the team would be fine letting Fitzpatrick walk.
The Jets have reportedly been scouting Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg leading into the draft, and those players could be potential options in the first or second rounds. Apart from the quarterback position, the Jets also should look at running back in the draft. Players like Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry should be on the board when the Jets pick at number 20, and the team could consider that position with the selection.
The Jets did address the running back spot in free agency after losing Chris Ivory by signing Matt Forte, but the position is still an area of need. With Ivory gone and Forte not getting any younger, the team will need someone to step up over the next few years. Elliot or Henry could be that option.
Henry won the Heisman last season and could be a strong option after rushing for over 2000 yards with Alabama. Elliott is looked at by many scouts as the top running back in this draft class and he could be a great fit behind Forte. Elliot had 1,821 yards with 23 touchdowns last season and also showed some skills catching the ball out of the backfield.
What the Jets do in the draft could depend on whether the team can get a deal done with Fitzpatrick. The clock is ticking.