Teddy Bridgewater has more value to Jets as QB than trade chip

Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold work out this week. Judging by preseason results, Bridgewater should be the starter. But it's more complicated than that. Julio Cortez/AP Photo

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Ted(dy) talk: Now that Sam Darnold has all but wrapped up the starting job, the only quarterback suspense involves Teddy Bridgewater. Frankly, the idea that he should be traded is a bit absurd, if you ask me. Unless they receive an offer they can't refuse (Marlon Brando voice), it makes no sense to deal a starting-caliber quarterback -- arguably the best quarterback on the roster. The Jets, of all teams, should appreciate the value of the position, considering how they've wallowed in mediocrity.

If the Jets trade Bridgewater for anything less than a third-round pick, it will show they're more concerned with the future than the present -- and getting his $5 million salary off the books. Yes, Darnold's development is of utmost importance, but the No. 1 objective is to win games. Keeping Bridgewater gives them the best chance to win.

Frankly, Bridgewater has outplayed Darnold in the preseason, but he hasn't been given a fair shot to win the job. In the first three games, he got only one series with the starters and received only 16 percent of the first-team reps in training camp, far less than Josh McCown (43 percent) and Darnold (41 percent). Once Darnold fell into their lap on draft day, the Jets put Bridgewater in the "trade bait" category.

Well, the trade bait has exceeded expectations, playing the way he did before his knee injury, but he won't be the starter because the powers-that-be seem to have settled on Darnold. Is money a factor? Bridgewater earns $250,000 for every game he plays at least 50 percent of the snaps, so you're talking an extra $2 million in bonus money if he starts half the season. You'd like to believe the Jets wouldn't sit him because of money, but they would because of his potential trade value. They'll stash him on the bench, hoping another team loses its starter.

The organization is enthralled by Darnold -- and I get it -- but it would be a mistake if its Sam-crush results in a drastic decision on Bridgewater, who should be no worse than the No. 2 quarterback. That would make McCown the highest-paid third stringer in the league ($10 million), but he'd have value as a quasi-quarterbacks coach.

All told, the Jets are scheduled to pay $21.5 million to the three quarterbacks, which isn't outrageous -- it ranks 19th, to be exact. Ultimately, the goal should be to field the best roster possible -- and it should include Bridgewater.

2. Tough cuts looming: In six days, the Jets must slash the roster from 90 to 53. No fewer than eight former draft picks are on the bubble, including linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (third round, 2015), wide receivers Charone Peake (seventh, 2016) and Chad Hansen (third, 2017) and cornerback Juston Burris (fourth, 2016).

Like all general managers, Mike Maccagnan is protective of his draft picks. If it's a close call between a draft pick and another player, the pick almost always gets the benefit of the doubt. This should be a fascinating cutdown day because the aforementioned players were third-string or lower in camp, so Maccagnan might be stretching the "benefit-of-the-doubt" rule to squeeze them on the final roster.

On one level, this is a good thing for the Jets. It's an indication of better depth and better competition.

3. Hoping to 'Shockey' the world: The University of Miami is known as The U. It also could be known as Tight End U.

The Hurricanes have produced many NFL standouts at the position, including Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, Bubba Franks and rising star David Njoku. Jets rookie Chris Herndon wants to be next.

"I just try to embrace it," he said of the tradition. "I know I'm a good player and I'm just going to continue to keep working every day. One day, I hope I can be labeled one of the best to come out of Miami."

Asked to name his favorite ex-Cane, Herndon said Shockey, a first-round pick of the New York Giants in 2002. He got a chance to meet Shockey, who paid a visit to the school to share some knowledge with the tight ends.

"I like how Shockey played," Herndon said. "He was a wild man on the field. He wasn't scared to go up and get those balls between defenders and also stick his nose in the blocking game. They're all good, but as far as one I paid attention to growing up, I feel like I paid attention to him."

The Jets are thrilled with Herndon, who could be a fourth-round steal. By the way, they have another ex-Cane tight end on the roster -- Clive Warford.

4. Happy 50th anniversary: The Jets will honor their Super Bowl III team on Oct. 14. Fittingly, they play the Colts -- the Indianapolis Colts, not the Baltimore Colts, whom they defeated on Jan. 12, 1969, 16-7. Close enough.

There will be a halftime ceremony, a special TV show on the anniversary of the game and a "White Out" for the Colts' game. The team will wear white jerseys, white pants and grey facemasks, just like they did on that fateful day at the Orange Bowl in '69. Because everything in sports needs a sponsor, the Jets have partnered with a Napa Valley winemaker to create a commemorative championship wine -- a California red, in case you're wondering. It went on sale Thursday.

If they really wanted to be true to the time, they would've created a special scotch. Back in the day, it was Joe Namath who quipped, "I like my girls blonde and my Johnny Walker red."

5. Namath on the big five-oh: I spoke to Namath recently about the 50th anniversary.

"Having lived it, it's almost mind-boggling, how time can fly, how time can move," he said. "I've figured it out. It's a Catch-22. Time flies when things are going well. Only when things are dragging -- somebody is sick, business is bad, you're hurt, whatever -- time drags. I joke sometimes: Well, time dragged when I was in elementary school. I want to get out to the playground. I wanted to get out and play some ball, man. That number -- 50. Fifty? God almighty. When you're moving along in life and you're at that age, it sounds like a big number."

Namath cherishes the opportunity to reconnect with old teammates.

"When we get together, it's like we haven't been away from one another very long," he said. "We're so comfortable, shoulder to shoulder. We're so comfortable in one another's company. It brings back marvelous memories, sure, but there's still that lasting camaraderie that you can feel, that you have, that's so comfortable and natural. It's wonderful."

6. Unhappy returns? Special-teams coordinator Brant Boyer says he believes the new kickoff rules will result in "bigger plays in the return game than there has been in the last four or five years." The reason: Players on the coverage team are no longer allowed to have a running start.

You wonder if the Jets will be able to capitalize because their return unit is perennially one of the worst in the league, and none of the current returners strike fear in the opponent. On Friday night, the entire kicking unit was an embarrassment. Among the many mistakes, they were penalized for an illegal double-team block and and an illegal formation on a kickoff, which suggests the players don't know the new rules.

The new rules also put a premium on touchbacks, which gives newly-acquired kicker Jason Myers an edge in the competition. His touchback percentage (72.3) is fifth best in the league over the past three seasons.

7. The last word: "It's hard to be perfect. When I went hiking on my journey, if you have a backpack on your back and it starts raining and you're like, 'Aw, man, it's raining,' that backpack all of a sudden gets 20 pounds heavier, that hill gets 10 degrees steeper. ... If you're positive when it's raining, you're like, 'Oh, it's beautiful, I'm going to listen to the sound of the rain.' All of sudden, your backpack is light and the mountain isn't as steep." -- offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates on how his four-year hiatus from football, which included hiking the Continental Divide Trail, changed his outlook.