It would not be an NFL offseason if there was not a little drama around the quarterback position of the New York Jets. The team has tried to downplay speculation by stressing they want to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick and have him be the starter in 2016, but their interviews at the Senior Bowl are spelling out a different story. With Fitzpatrick set to be a free agent, are the Jets eyeing a quarterback in the draft if he does not return?
According to Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, the Jets have interviewed Carson Wentz of North Dakota State who is quickly becoming a draft favorite. The quarterback has gone from unknown to potentially being the first player at his position taken off the board. If teams buy into the hype around Wentz, he could go as high as No.2. If they opt to select Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch instead, the Jets could easily select him in the first round.
It is unclear just how serious the Jets' interest in Wentz is. The team could simply be doing their research on all their options, but it certainly raises a few eyebrows simply because Fitzpatrick is not a guarantee to re-sign. General manager Mike Maccagnan has stressed the Jets intend to bring the veteran quarterback and Fitzpatrick has said the feeling is mutual. However, he is going to want to get his money. Fitzpatrick proved he can compete at a high level and he wants his pay raise to reflect that. The Jets must be willing to meet the contract demands.
There is also the speculation of what the interest in players like Wentz means for Geno Smith and Bryce Petty. It is no secret that Smith has fallen out of favor with the franchise and it is unknown whether or not he will be back. Maccagnan has endorsed the quarterback, but that could easily change. The same goes for Petty.
"Bryce has made a lot of progress and we're kind of excited to have another offseason with him," Maccagnan said, via FOX Sports. "I would say with Geno, he's under contract, we like the progress he's made and how he even handled the situation in the summer. Right now, I would say going forward we're going to see how Geno and Bryce progress with the offseason and go from there, and that's assuming we're able to re-sign Ryan."
The Jets could easily re-sign Fitzpatrick, release Smith and draft a quarterback like Wentz to develop. Maccagnan stated that he does believe Petty has made a lot of progress and could be a solid No.2 option, but there are still a lot of unknowns. If the team feels good about Wentz, they could make the move.