Jets GM indicates Sam Darnold will get chance to start: 'Nothing's been predetermined'

Despite signing Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater this offseason, the New York Jets are prepared to let the No. 3 overall pick, Sam Darnold, compete for the starting quarterback job during his first summer in the NFL, unlike many other highly drafted quarterbacks in recent years, including this year's No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield. 

On Wednesday, during an appearance on "The Rich Eisen Show," Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan indicated that the Jets will hold an open competition this summer. 

"Nothing's been predetermined one way or another," Maccagnan said. "There's a chance for anything on the table. Nothing's been sort of set in stone in terms of how we're going to do this in terms of a firm time frame. But he's going to have every opportunity and we'll see how it develops going forward."

Still, it sounds like the Jets won't play him unless he demonstrates that he's far and away ready for the NFL.

"We're going to basically expose him to everything," Maccagnan said. "We're going to give him the opportunity to go out there to (learn and earn) the position. But, of course, our focus is not necessarily to throw him into the fire until he's earned it. ... He's going to have every opportunity to go out there and hopefully fulfill all the potential we see in him."

For the past couple of seasons, the NFL has been trending toward a league that lets rookie quarterbacks begin their careers on the bench. 

Jared Goff began his rookie season behind Case Keenum and Sean Mannion on the depth chart. Carson Wentz was supposed to redshirt his rookie year until the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford on the eve of the season. Mitchell Trubisky waited for his turn behind Mike Glennon. Deshaun Watson was Tom Savage's backup in Week 1. Patrick Mahomes garnered only one start in his rookie season. Mayfield is scheduled to sit behind Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland. But the Jets aren't dismissing Darnold's chances to beat out the likes of McCown and Bridgewater. 

Darnold's primary competitor will probably the veteran in McCown rather than Bridgewater, whose health is still unknown. A year ago, McCown played admirably for the Jets despite his age (38) and limited skillset, completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns, nine picks, and a 94.5 passer rating in 13 games. He was good enough that the Jets decided to bring him back on a one-year, $10 million deal.

Don't overlook Bridgewater, though. The Jets brought him in on a one-year deal, but he's only made one appearance since he suffered a tragic knee injury on the eve of the 2016 season. Though Bridgewater features some upside -- after all, he's a 25-year-old former first-round pick -- the uncertainty regarding his knee makes it difficult to predict how he'll fare in New York.

Really, the door is wide open for Darnold to win the job. It'll be less about McCown's performance during training camp and the summer (he's a known commodity at this point in his never-ending career) and more about how Darnold adapts to the NFL. If Darnold can't win the job in his first summer, nobody should panic. Being brought along slowly can be the best outcome for a young quarterback while getting rushed can just as easily ruin a young quarterback's career before he really even has a chance to blossom.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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