Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer 11d

Jets GM not discouraged by Christian Hackenberg, but...

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Christian Hackenberg is a third-string quarterback who has yet to play a regular-season snap in two seasons, but the man who drafted him isn't ready to write him off. But he didn't sound terribly excited about his future, either.

New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan gave a lukewarm assessment of the heavily-scrutinized Hackenberg, saying Wednesday that he's "not discouraged" by the QB's slow development.

"With any player, they all develop at difference paces and different rates," he said in his mid-season sitdown with reporters. "I think (the preseason) was a good experience for Christian. I think we got an idea what he still needs to improve upon, like with any young player, but I wouldn't say (I'm) discouraged."

The Jets gave Hackenberg a chance in the preseason to make a bold move up the depth chart. They didn't expect him to win the starting job, but they were hopeful he'd claim the No. 2 job and push Josh McCown for No. 1.

None of that happened. Two years after being drafted in the second round, Hackenberg still is wallowing on the bench. He runs the scout team in practice, which apparently puts him in harm's way. On Wednesday, he injured a finger on his throwing hand and didn't finish practice.

Hackenberg is the biggest blemish on Maccagnan's drafting record.

"I think Christian has done some positive things," he said. "I think there are areas he still needs to improve upon. I'm encouraged by the work he and Bryce (Petty) are putting in."

Maccagnan deserves credit for turning over the roster in the offseason and making the Jets competitive, but the No. 1 item on his to-do list is finding a long-term solution at quarterback. He has failed in that regard.

He dodged the question when asked if that player is on the current roster. Make no mistake, the Jets will make a big quarterback move in the offseason, whether it's drafting one in the first round or acquiring a proven veteran. They also could keep McCown, 38, who will be a free agent.

McCown has "fulfilled all our expectations," said Maccagnan, who wouldn't say if he'd like to re-sign their current starter. He said it's too soon to make that call. You can bet he learned a lesson from how he handled Ryan Fitzpatrick after the 2015 season. The Jets professed their love for Fitzpatrick, allowing themselves to be strung along for months during an unnecessary contract dispute.

If the Jets (4-5) fall out of postseason contention, they could decide to audition Hackenberg and/or Petty later in the season. Maccagnan said that isn't set in stone.

"I don't think there's any prerequisite with what we need to do," he said.

The Jets passed on a potential franchise quarterback in the most recent draft, Deshaun Watson, who was having a record-breaking year until a major knee injury last week. Maccagnan said he has no regrets about picking safety Jamal Adams, adding, "You don't go back and play the what-if game."

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