FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets drafted a quarterback for the fourth consecutive year, picking Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg with their second-round choice Friday night. The move complicates an already uncertain quarterback situation.
Hackenberg joins Geno Smith and Bryce Petty on the roster, but the Jets also are hoping to re-sign free-agent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. They won’t keep four quarterbacks, so the pick raises questions about the future of Smith, Petty and Fitzpatrick.
The Jets and Fitzpatrick are locked in a contract impasse, and the last time they had meaningful discussions was “weeks ago,” a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Smith, who started for the Jets in 2013 and ’14, is entering the final year of his contract. Petty, a fourth-round pick last year, didn’t play in the regular season.
Hackenberg said the coaches didn’t share their immediate plans for him. He said he had “a great visit” to the team facility a couple of weeks ago.
“A lot of great coaches up there, a lot of awesome football knowledge,” he said. “I’m really excited to learn, really excited to get in there with the guys and get a feel for the team and start earning their respect.”
The Jets’ interest in Hackenberg leaked in recent days. General manager Mike Maccagnan attended his pro day, and the team invited him to One Jets Drive for a predraft visit.
Hackenberg said he wasn’t watching the draft on TV. He was playing cornhole in his family’s backyard in Virginia when the Jets made the pick.
“My mom came running out with the phone,” he said. “I really didn’t know what was going on. I’m really, really fortunate, man. Really grateful.”
For a minute, it looked as if Hackenberg would be reunited with his former college coach, Bill O’Brien. The Houston Texans traded up to the 50th pick, one spot ahead of the Jets, but they chose Notre Dame center Nick Martin.
The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Hackenberg had an uneven career at Penn State. He impressed as a true freshman, but his production declined over his final two seasons under a new coaching staff. He threw for only 2,525 yards last season, with 16 touchdown and six interceptions.
Hackenberg declined to comment on the ups and downs of his college career, acknowledging he “faced a lot of adversity.”
“Just extremely grateful for the opportunity,” Hackenberg said. “A lot of hours went into this. This is just the beginning. I’m really looking forward to taking the next step and getting in there and getting acclimated to everything going on with the team.”
Hackenberg is the first Penn State quarterback to be drafted in any round since 1997, when Wally Richardson was taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the seventh round.