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Josh McCown still Jets’ starter at QB, but that could change

Bridgewater, Petty, Hackenberg or first-round pick might displace him.

Josh McCown, who will be 39 before

Josh McCown, who will be 39 before the regular season begins, is the Jets' incumbent starting quarterback. Photo Credit: Lee S. Weissman

ORLANDO, Fla. — Josh McCown is the Jets’ starting quarterback. For now.

Todd Bowles said Tuesday that McCown will start but wouldn’t rule out somebody replacing him. Who would take over is a mystery. It could be Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty or a 2018 first-round draft pick.

“Josh will go into it as the starter, and by the end of training camp, we’ll see who the starter is,” Bowles said at the NFL owners’ meetings. “It’s competition at every position, even with the two young safeties. Whether it’s Leonard Williams or anybody else, everybody has competition going in. If they’re not performing well enough, they won’t be the starter at the end of August, and that goes for every position. So, that’s never changed since I’ve been here.”

Last season, McCown was given the No. 1 job, but the Jets gave more preseason reps to Hackenberg and Petty in an attempt to find a younger starter. Both failed, and McCown started 13 games before breaking his hand. Petty started the final three games over Hackenberg.

This offseason, after the Jets failed to sign their top free- agent target, Kirk Cousins, they signed McCown and Bridgewater to one-year deals. After McCown signed, Jets officials told him he will be the starter. The Jets also moved from No. 6 to No. 3 overall in the draft to give themselves the chance to select a quarterback.

As it stands, it’s McCown’s job to lose.

“You want a long-term answer at every position, not just quarterback,” Bowles said. “So we’re trying to find guys and Josh, again, he played well last year, and we got the addition of Teddy and we’ll see what he can do and the young guys are still practicing. But you want a guy that has stability at the position for a long time.”

Stability with McCown is short. He’ll be 39 when the regular season starts, and he is coming off a career year. Bridgewater hasn’t played in nearly two seasons recovering from a dislocated left kneecap and a torn ACL.

The Jets presented little evidence other than a passed physical that Bridgewater will be on the roster. He got a $500,000 signing bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus. Bowles said he expects Bridgewater to throw passes during Organized Team Activities next month but wasn’t sure about much else from a physical standpoint.

Mike Zimmer, Bridgewater’s coach with the Vikings last season, said Tuesday that doctors weren’t sure whether he will make a full recovery.

“The reports I’d get back from the medical people weren’t as positive as I was about it,” Zimmer said, according to ESPN. “Kind of how it came down is that . . . he still has some recovery to do. When I watched him practice [last year], he moved well, I didn’t see limitations, but from what I was told, there were some.”

The Jets could go into OTAs with five quarterbacks on the active roster, which isn’t a concern for Bowles.

“We’ll get a good player in the draft,” he said. “If it happens to be five, when it’s time to make a decision we’ll make them. We have our guys that we have and we’ll go from there.”

Bowles also said he’s open to starting a rookie quarterback this season if he develops. The last one to start Week 1 for the Jets was Geno Smith in 2013.

“It depends on the progress,” Bowles said. “I’m not afraid to play young players at any position. You go in and compete and as you gain confidence in the system and understand what you’re doing, you go through training camp. Whether it’s a D-lineman, a corner, a safety, a linebacker, a wide receiver. At the end of training camp, if you’re a rookie and you are where we need you to be, you play. If not, you don’t.”

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