Now it's official: The New York Jets have a crowded depth chart.
A lot of folks are scratching their heads, wondering why the Jets made an agreement with Bridgewater last Tuesday after bringing back McCown and knowing they'd they try to trade up in the draft, presumably for a quarterback. (In fact, the trade happened Saturday.) Suddenly, there seems to be a fear that the McCown-Bridgewater tandem will prevent Rookie X from getting enough practice/playing time, thus stunting his development and continuing the perpetual cycle of quarterback mediocrity.
It's a fair concern, considering how the Jets have mishandled their quarterbacks in recent years. Even with Petty, Hackenberg and Stave removed from the equation, which seems inevitable, the situation could get cumbersome if not handled properly. But I'm here to tell you the Bridgewater signing makes sense.
Four reasons why it can work:
1. Insurance: Every team should have two capable quarterbacks. Didn't the Philadelphia Eagles prove that last season? The Jets decided to go without a seasoned backup in 2017, handing the No. 2 job to Petty -- and you saw how the offense fell apart when he replaced the injured McCown. Because the Jets were in a full-blown rebuilding mode, the decision to have an unproven backup (two, actually) didn't seem out of line. But now the landscape has changed. Coach Todd Bowles needs to win games and can't leave himself vulnerable. McCown, 38, never has played a full season, and Bridgewater hasn't played a full game in two years because of a devastating knee injury. It wouldn't make sense to have one without the other.
2. Flexibility: The Jets didn't invest a lot of money in Bridgewater -- only $6 million, including a minimal guarantee -- so they can cut him if he plays poorly, gets hurt or loses his spot to Rookie X on the depth chart.
3. Potential upside: Bridgewater was a decent game manager in 2015, helping the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC North title. He passed for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and completed 65 percent of his passes. If he can recapture that form -- he's only 25 -- he could push McCown for the starting job, or maybe overtake him. There's a flip side to having a rejuvenated Bridgewater: He might fetch something in a trade, especially if a team loses its starter in the preseason.
4. Open-mindedness: The only way the two-veterans-and-a-rookie scenario can work is if Bowles drops his old-school approach when it comes to quarterbacks. He usually defers to veterans, but he needs to recognize Rookie X will need to play at some point during the 2018 season. There will be growing pains. The sooner you get them out of the way, the better. Bowles also needs to figure out a way to give him a decent amount of reps in training camp. This can't be a redshirt year, a la Hackenberg in 2016.
The best case study for the Jets is the 2012 Seattle Seahawks. They spent a lot of money on free-agent Matt Flynn, who was joined by holdover Tarvaris Jackson and a rookie named Russell Wilson. You can guess what happened. Wilson performed the best in the preseason, so they made him the starter, put Flynn on the bench and traded Jackson.
It wouldn't be a surprise if a similar situation unfolds with the Jets ... if they're lucky enough to draft a Wilson-like talent.