Jets GM: Sam Darnold will compete for starting QB gig

While Browns coach Hue Jackson has made it clear that top draft pick Baker Mayfield will start his career as Tyrod Taylor's backup, the Jets are taking a different approach with their own first-round quarterback.

Appearing on Wednesday's edition of The Rich Eisen Show, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan confirmed that No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold will compete with veteran incumbent Josh McCown for the starting job.

"We're going to basically expose him to everything," Maccagnan said. "We're going to give him the opportunity to go out there [and learn] the position. But of course our focus is not necessarily to throw him into the fire until he's earned it.

"But we're very excited about him and his upside potential. ... He's going to have every opportunity to go out there and hopefully fulfill every potential we see in him."

Not satisfied with that equivocal answer, Eisen asked point-blank if Darnold will have the opportunity to earn the Week 1 nod.

"Nothing's been predetermined one way or another," Maccagnan explained, "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."

McCown, 38, exceeded expectations in 13 games before a broken hand ended his first Jets season in December. When he re-signed in March, he was reportedly assured that he's penciled in as the 2018 starter.

As with most situations in the NFL, however, this one is fluid. It's not unusual for conservative coaching staffs to default to the trusty veteran throughout the offseason and into training camp.

Once the future of the franchise begins to flash promise in preseason action, though, it's tough to resist the temptation to place the offense in the younger quarterback's hands.

Beginning with Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco a decade ago, the league has seen a marked trend toward throwing rookies into the fire. Over the past 10 years, per Rotoworld's Rich Hribar, 20 of 27 first-round quarterbacks have started at least eight games in their rookie seasons. On average, a first-round QB will start 11 games in his first NFL season.

When it comes down to a decision between a veteran and a promising prospect, legendary Giants general manager George Young once advised Bill Parcells, you have to ask if the older player is a "progress stopper."

The Jets coaching staff will spend the next four months trying to answer that question.

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