New York Jets face complicated choice in relationship with Josh McCown

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Ah, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?

Josh McCown represents the New York Jets’ latest one-night stand at the quarterback position. But like New York’s last lover, McCown could be moving in.

Turn back the clocks to 2015, when a wily, journeyman bachelor named Ryan Fitzpatrick inherited the starting job via an unfortunate punch to someone else’s jaw. Fitzpatrick made the most of the opportunity, breaking the Jets’ single-season touchdown pass record and leading Gang Green to a 10-6 season.

Despite a rough patch during the summer of 2016 that all relationships go through, Fitzpatrick parlayed his career year into $12 million as the Jets made their relationship status “Facebook official.”

Now, the Jets are faced with another quarterback who’s had trouble finding love. McCown, 38, has been on eight NFL teams during his 15-year career. However, he might have found a home with the Jets, who are the truest definition of a hopeless romantic when it comes to quarterbacks.

McCown’s circumstances aren’t exactly similar to Fitzpatrick, but that doesn’t make his career season any less surprising. This week against Denver will be McCown’s 13th start of the season, only the second time he’s started that many games in a season.

Just the fact that the injury-prone McCown has remained healthy for 13 consecutive weeks is somewhat miraculous (although this decree will probably serve as a jinx). McCown has dealt with his fair share of injuries so it’s a surprise that he’s even intact this late in the season.

McCown hasn’t been quite as prolific as Fitzpatrick was in 2015, but he’s been darn good and has helped the growth of a supporting cast that entered the year deemed as one of the worst in the league. McCown has efficiently completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,880 yards, 18 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He deserves a ton of credit for the Jets being 5-7 entering Week 14 even if his costly mistakes help explain why they don’t have a better record.

But should the Jets really fall for the aging quarterback who most likely won’t replicate the success he had the previous season? No. But that doesn’t mean the Jets can’t just keep it casual. Perhaps a friends-with-benefits label is most appropriate.

The Jets need a veteran quarterback in 2018. Whether that veteran will start Week 1 or mentor a younger prospect is unknown. But the point is they need someone they can at least turn to in a pinch. McCown’s leadership has been lauded by coaches and the media, so serving as a mentor in the twilight of his career might be a role he can embrace.

As far as McCown’s monetary value? That’s an entirely different can of worms. The Jets would be foolish to shell out $12 million like they did for Fitzpatrick. But a thank-you gift in the range of $6 million to $8 million would be palatable. New York will have oodles of cap space, perhaps as much as $100 million, so they can splurge a bit to reward a quarterback who’s added a semblance of stability under center.

McCown is probably worth keeping around, but at the right cost and with the right prospects either ahead of him or behind him on the depth chart.

The Jets’ Facebook status would probably say “It’s complicated,” right now when it comes to their relationship with Josh McCown.

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