Three weeks ago, Christian Hackenberg was finally afforded a fresh start. Now, he'll be looking for his third team in as many years.
The former Penn State quarterback was waived by the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday afternoon. The news, first reported by ESPN's Field Yates, comes just 21 days after the New York Jets traded Hackenberg to the Bay Area for a conditional seventh round pick, which Oakland will now keep. Hackenberg is now a free agent and can sign with any team in the league.
Hackenberg — a former five-star recruit who once garnered No. 1 overall hype after impressing as a freshman at Penn State — was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft. Despite questionable competition surrounding him, with Josh McCown and Bryce Petty joining him on the depth chart the past two seasons, Hackenberg never came close to starting in New York.
According to Football Perspective's Chase Stuart, he is the first quarterback in more than 35 years to be drafted in the first or second round and never throw a pass in his first two seasons.
With the Jets drafting Southern California stud Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall in April's draft, it became even clearer that Hackenberg had no future in the Big Apple. His trade to Oakland was a long time coming, but there was optimism surrounding the move. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden raved about Hackenberg on his ESPN-produced Gruden's QB Camp show back in 2016.
"The biggest surprise to me on Hackenberg is that no one is really talking about him in the first round," Gruden told ESPN at the time. "This was the No. 1 prospect in the nation a few years ago and someone who showed during his freshman year he could produce at a high level in a true NFL-style offense."
However, Gruden and the Raiders entered their mandatory mini-camp on Tuesday with three other quarterbacks on the roster: Derek Carr, Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel.
Still, there is reason for hope that Hackenberg can make something of a brief and disappointing NFL career so far. The quarterback told reporters three weeks ago that he worked with guru Jeff Christensen and changed his throwing motion over the course of the offseason.
"It's a really solid foundation for me moving forward, and I'm excited about it," Hackenberg said of the change. "All I know is I'm 23 and I've got a lot of ball ahead of me. My career hasn't even started yet. I'm excited about what the future holds."