Jets' quarterback competition, new replay rule, more AFC notes

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Gregg Rosenthal recaps all the news and nuggets from Tuesday's AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL's Annual League Meeting.

Another year, another open competition at quarterback for the New York Jets.

In the grand tradition of Sanchez vs. Tebow and Fitzpatrick vs. Geno, Jets coach Todd Bowles insisted Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore that this year's starting job is there for the taking, despite Josh McCown's recent arrival.

"Hack's (Christian Hackenberg) going to get a chance to play. Bryce [Petty] will get a chance to play. Josh will get a chance to play," Bowles said. "It will be good competition there, and everybody knows that. We'll see going forward from there."

The third-year Jets coach said that reps will be split up evenly in offseason practices, although Petty's healing non-throwing shoulder will be a factor. This shouldn't be a huge surprise. McCown turns 38 years old on America's birthday and is coming off a scattershot season in Cleveland. He will earn $6 million in 2017, which is essentially a backup's salary. Signing McCown after striking out in the Brian Hoyer sweepstakes -- a phrase I never expected to write -- was a sign that the Jets would give their young quarterbacks a chance this season.

Bowles expects a "new attitude" from Hackenberg now that the 2016 second-round pick has a chance to start. While Bowles said "there is a scenario" in which the team could draft another quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick, it appears the Jets are likely to roll with McCown, Hackenberg and Petty for 2017, hoping that Hackenberg takes a big leap.

Just don't tell Bowles that the Jets are rebuilding. He says the team is only "building," even if sane observers believe they are building their chances to take a quarterback No. 1 overall a year from now.

Things coaches had to say Tuesday

1) "My relationship with Doug Whaley has been seamless. Doug laid a nice foundation for me and has helped our team improve in free agency."
-- Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott.

This comment from McDermott, instantly tweeted out by the team, sounded like response to a scathing Buffalo News column that called Whaley "a mute, emasculated figure" and implored the Bills to "stop the charade" and fire Whaley.

This is not the type of local coverage typical of a honeymoon period with a new coach, but that's what happens when ownership retains a deeply unpopular general manager. McDermott, who reportedly has significant personnel say, is clearly the face of the Bills franchise now.

2) "He's under contract to the Cowboys, and that's all I can say."
-- Texans coach Bill O'Brien on Tony Romo.

This was the expected response from O'Brien on Tuesday morning, but it's not all he could say. Consider what Broncos coach Vance Joseph said across the room at the same time.

"Romo is a non-issue. We haven't had one meeting about Romo," Joseph told reporters.

Joseph elaborated that the Broncos could wind up drafting a quarterback. If the team adds a veteran quarterback, Joseph expects it to be a young player. The Broncos never publicly embraced the idea of Romo, but Joseph and Broncos GM John Elway have made stronger statements in the past two days about staying the course with Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian.

My interpretation is that the Broncos realize now Romo has eyes for Houston, and Denver was only interested in him at a bargain price anyhow. Romo won't necessarily be that cheap if he hits free agency after the Texans cleared the salary-cap decks with the Brock Osweiler trade.

3) "I expect all the guys to be on the roster right now."
-- Todd Bowles, when asked if defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson would be on the Jets in 2017.

Richardson's situation has slipped under the radar this offseason. Don't be surprised if there are trade rumors leading up to next month's draft.

4) "Well, I don't know that."
-- Browns coach Hue Jackson on whether Osweiler will remain on the team.

That's just Hue being honest. It appears the Browns will only keep Osweiler into the regular season if things go wrong at the quarterback position in the coming weeks.

Only one rule change will change 2017 much

Ownership is getting out of the NFL's Annual League Meeting early this year, a sign that the rules proposals discussed didn't cause a lot of controversy or debate. The proposal to shorten overtime to 10 minutes was tabled until the next meeting, and most of the other changes were minor, like preventing "leapers" on extra points and field goals.

The most significant adjustment came in the replay process. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino will now have final say on all replays, which theoretically should improve consistency and save time. Referees will now view replays on a tablet rather than "going under the hood" -- and even the on-site look at the tablet could be cosmetic. It's Blandino's world -- we're all just living in it.

Storylines that deserve more attention

1) Add Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh to the list of folks who "never took it seriously" when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger mentioned possibly retiring.

Even Roethlisberger's coach, Mike Tomlin, said Tuesday that he's planning for Roethlisberger to play -- although Tomlin admitted he hasn't even asked Big Ben about it directly. That's how little use Tomlin had for unnecessary drama this offseason.

2) Sean McDermott was effusive in his praise for second-year Bills linebacker Reggie Ragland, saying he plans to start him at middle linebacker. McDermott mentioned Luke Kuechly when talking up Ragland, and cited Lorenzo Alexander and Ramon Humber as his starters at outside linebacker. That would leave Preston Brown, a three-year starter, without a spot in Buffalo's 4-3 starting lineup. McDermott also believes that the team's No. 2 receiver is on the roster right now, which is great news for Andre Holmes and concerning news for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo is set up to keep its power-running offensive profile.

3) Dolphins coach Adam Gase indicated that Ryan Tannehill could have played in the Divisional Round of the playoffs if Miami had beaten Pittsburgh in January. That's a great sign that Tannehill's knee injury won't get in his way at all when it comes to preparing this offseason. Gase said that the team never discussed adding Jay Cutler to its quarterback mix, even if Cutler appears to be in great shape.

Gase also couldn't hide his excitement about moving second-year pro Laremy Tunsil to his natural left tackle position. The Dolphins believe they have a Pro Bowler in the making.

4) Houston Texans owner Bob McNair's comments on GM Rick Smith's handling of the Brock Osweiler trade were revealing.

"I couldn't believe that Rick was able to pull it off," McNair told the Houston Chronicle on Monday. "It's unbelievable. Everybody around the league, their jaws are still hanging open. It's something no one thought [about], and I think other people have looked at that, and they've been trying to do the same thing without success."

In short: Smith is getting a lot of credit for executing a trade that might have been Cleveland's idea and not getting much blame for signing Osweiler in the first place.

5) Vance Joseph went out of his way to say he expects more out of Demaryius Thomas -- who posted a career-low 12.0 yards per catch in his seventh NFL season -- as a leader and top-shelf receiver. It's telling the Broncos believe Thomas can do a lot more.

6) Perhaps the biggest eyebrow-raising news on Tuesday came from an interview Redskins president Bruce Allen conducted with 980-AM in Washington in which he said that there is "100 percent" organizational consensus about wanting to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term contract. Allen even indicated that using the franchise tag on Cousins for the third straight season could be in play.

Using the tag again on Cousins next season would cost the Redskins close to $35 million, but the team is doubling down on the notion that Cousins isn't leaving. Then again, completing a long-term contract would say a lot more than these public pronouncements.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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