PHOENIX (CBSNewYork) — Josh McCown will have to earn the Jets’ starting quarterback job.

Speaking at the NFL meetings on Tuesday, coach Todd Bowles refused to anoint McCown as the starter, saying there will be an open competition for the gig.

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That competition will include McCown, whom the Jets signed last week; Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg and possibly a rookie.

Bowles, however, had some high praise for McCown. The two briefly worked together with the Miami Dolphins in 2008.

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“I’ve known Josh for a while,” Bowles said. “What he brings to the table inside the locker room and on the field, it’s immeasurable. And those were the type of guys we were trying to sign and look for going into this thing, and Josh fits that bill.”

[graphiq id=”3W79r6pR7M1″ title=”Josh McCown Overview” width=”600″ height=”666″ url=”″ link=”” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Perhaps one reason Bowles is hesitant to name McCown the starter is that the 37-year-old journeyman’s stiffest competition might not even be on the roster yet. Gang Green has the sixth overall pick in next month’s draft, and Bowles did not rule out selecting yet another QB.

“You never say never,” he said. “We want to take the best player. Depending on how it falls at 6, it could be a quarterback there that we want. There could be somebody else that we want.”

The Jets have reportedly scheduled workouts with North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer.

While not naming names, Bowles said he’s impressed by this draft’s quarterback class.

“So far from what I’ve seen, those are good players,” he said. “Obviously there’s quite a few players coming out right now. A different style of guys, but all good quarterbacks in their own right. So they’re impressive.”

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Last year, the Jets spent a second-round pick on Hackenberg, who, despite a bevy of injuries at the position, did not play a snap as a rookie.

Bowles said Hackenberg will have a chance to see the field this season.

“He got to sit a lot last year, and he got to see a lot of things,” the Jets coach said. “And hopefully he puts that to use coming in, and we expect him to.”

But all in all, Bowles said he’s not disappointed that the most important position on the team remains unsettled as he enters his third season as head coach.

“I played for Coach (Joe) Gibbs (in Washington), and we had different quarterbacks all the time,” Bowles said. “The first year, it worked out. The second year, it didn’t work out — we didn’t have such a good year. So third year going in, we’ve just got to make sure we’ve got a guy that doesn’t turn the ball over and we have a guy that commands the room, and make sure that we help that guy and not put it solely on the quarterback.”

Bounce-Back For Wilkerson?

Bowles said he believes Muhammad Wilkerson, who had a subpar 2016 season, was slowed by an ankle injury.

The defensive end was coming off a broken leg in the previous season’s finale and then suffered an ankle injury early in the year. He followed up a 12-sack season in 2015 with just 4½ sacks.

“I’m sure he played hurt most of the year,” Bowels said. ” … He came back early, gutted it out. Shows what kind of warrior he is, and hopefully he’s gotten better and he can go back to being himself.”

Bowles said he hasn’t read the reports that Wilkerson appeared out of shape in public recently and has not checked into the matter.

The Other Mo

Bowles was asked about new cornerback Morris Claiborne’s injury history. The former Cowboy, signed by the Jets as a free agent earlier this month, has never played a full 16 games and has not played in more than 11 games since his rookie season.

“A lot of freak things happen to him,” Bowles said. “He’s a good player. Sometimes things happen to him. You just hope for the best. We took a flyer on him. And if stays healthy and produces, we’ll be happy we got the player.”

Vegas Concerns?

When asked if he would worry about bringing players to Las Vegas to face the Raiders, Bowles joked, “I worry about coaches.”

He added that he believes players are smart enough not to indulge in the Vegas experience the night before a game.

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“It’s just like going into another city,” Bowles said. “You’re not going to be there long enough. It’ll be just like normal. Those guys have been to Vegas plenty of times in the offseason. I don’t think they’re going to wait one weekend just to go that game.”