Contrary to popular belief among many New York Jets fans, it’ll be development, not Ryan Fitzpatrick, that’ll be the top key in 2016.

Somewhere in this great country of ours, Ryan Fitzpatrick is tied very closely to his phone.

The free agent National Football League quarterback is kicking it very anxiously while messaging Jimmy Sexton for updates on whether his 2015 boss has upped his current offer on the table.

Obviously, his boss was Mike Maccagnan. Also, very obviously, the current offer is reported to be a 3-year, $24 million deal that includes a $12 million tab for the season of 2016.

At this point anything is on the table.

Even if you’re one of the staunch believers that the New York Jets and Fitz will eventually get things settled, you now have to think twice. Perhaps New York doesn’t mind fourth-year Geno Smith as their starter heading into training camp.

If that’s not the case, you gotta give the Jets an A+ on the subject of the poker face.

Through it all, though, Fitz’s possible return isn’t the most important factor for this franchise.

Of course he makes the Jets a better team. There’s no doubt the entire locker room wants him back. Yes, the second-year regime of Mikey Mac and Todd Bowles would welcome him back with open arms under their terms.

However, it’s development that’s the key over the next full calendar year, not Fitzpatrick.

These Jets aren’t Super Bowl contenders. It’s really that simple. A classically soft 2015 schedule turned absolutely brutal in 2016. Even with Fitz, the Jets wouldn’t have a franchise QB in a league that features such a label to an absurd level.

Have crazier things happened than the 2016 New York Jets hosting the Lombardi Trophy? Yeah, of course.

The problem is, it’s not realistic. This is why developing youngsters will be the cornerstone of 2016.

RELATED: The 25 Greatest New York Jets Of All-Time

Building a group of youngsters is the idea. Upping value on a player in a hardened salary cap world equals a core of success.

Just look at the Seattle Seahawks. Once the likes of lesser paid draftees like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner provided a greater return on investment, talent in the locker room turned immense.

This is the key goal Mike Maccagnan has in mind. The value of each player his what he keeps a keen eye on.

Of course he wants Fitzpatrick back. He’s just not willing to stray from the ultimate goal of 2016 for the New York Jets: Development of youngsters while maintaining cap flexibility.

From here on out we’ll take you through these key Jets youngsters, 17 of them to be exact. 17, marking a little more than a third of the gameday roster.

 Begin Slideshow 

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]