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Mike Maccagnan won’t rule out keeping four Jets quarterbacks

Jets backup quarterback Geno Smith during pregame as

Jets backup quarterback Geno Smith during pregame as the New York Jets take on the New England Patriots during a game on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 at MetLife Stadium. Credit: Lee Weissman

When it comes to quarterbacks, the more the merrier for Mike Maccagnan.

While making the radio rounds on Tuesday, the Jets general manager said that he’s not opposed to keeping four quarterbacks on the roster — even after training camp.

“The simple answer to your question is, yes, Mike,” Maccagnan told Mike Francesa on his WFAN show Tuesday afternoon. “ . . . Quarterbacks are important, obviously, in the league in general. But in a perfect world, I think you’d like to take your time and develop quarterbacks, have them almost in the pipeline, basically. So that’s kind of our approach to this whole thing.

“And, hey, if the best thing for the team at the end of training camp is that we carry four quarterbacks, we carry four quarterbacks. It’s not unprecedented in the NFL. It’s been done before. To me, it’s a position where you have to take some time to really invest, grow and develop players.”

The Jets had backups Geno Smith and Bryce Petty on their roster before drafting Christian Hackenberg on Friday in the second round of the NFL Draft. The team, however, is still trying to re-sign veteran free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick, their 2015 starter.

Maccagnan made it clear that he didn’t go into Day 2 of the draft expecting to take Hackenberg. Asked by Francesa about “reports” that he was “obsessed” with selecting the former Penn State quarterback, the Jets GM said he wasn’t “locked” into taking him at all. Instead, that’s how the “board unfolded.”

Maccagnan added that negotiations with Fitzpatrick’s camp haven’t changed and are ongoing. With the 33-year-old unsigned, Smith will be taking first-team reps to start OTAs.

Some believe the Jets will part ways with Smith if Fitzpatrick is re-signed. Unlike Petty, who was Maccagnan’s fourth-round selection in 2015, Smith was a 2013 second-round pick of John Idzik, the previous Jets general manager.

But Maccagnan denied Smith will automatically be shown the door.

“I would say that would be inaccurate,” he said. “ . . . With Ryan out, Geno is our No. 1 quarterback. Bryce, I assume, would be No. 2 and Christian would be No. 3 right now.

“We weren’t here, but I know Geno was thrust into the fire pretty early in his rookie season and the second season, and then last season he had a really good offseason until the unfortunate incident in the locker room [with IK Enemkpali].”

Though Maccagnan acknowledged Smith is “a bit of an unknown,” he said this offseason will be important for the fourth-year quarterback.

“I understand when you make decisions, everybody thinks there are ramifications in reference to other people on your roster,” the GM said. “But we like Geno Smith. And Geno’s done a good job for us and this will be a big offseason for him going forward. And we’ll see how he develops. We like the idea of having Fitz, in a perfect world, back here in the organization with Geno and our two young quarterbacks.”

New York Sports