From The New York Daily News The last time the Jets thought they had a Super Bowl team was in 1999, but Vinny Testaverde didn't make it to halftime of the first game. It took six years to have realistic Super Bowl expectations again, but Chad Pennington lasted three games. Is this franchise cursed? Did they pay for Joe Namath's Super Bowl by being forever barred from making it back? What team gets rocked with the 1-2 punch of losing its top two quarterbacks to serious shoulder injuries in the same game? "Total devastation for your football team," is how one GM described it yesterday. The Jets are officially entered in the Matt Leinart Derby and could have the winning 3-13 ticket. The Jets have to approach their future figuring the Pennington era is over. He may come back from two rotator cuff tears 10 months apart, but the Jets can't afford to put their future on hold waiting on another grueling rehab. Even if Pennington returns, the Jets have no guarantees he'll be as good as he was before he started tearing up his shoulder. And what if he tears it a third time? There is serious concern in the organization about what to do about a quarterback in 2006. It's going to have to make a bold move after the season and start over. "They are in deep trouble," another GM said yesterday. "There aren't many options." One option stands out. Make it impossible for San Diego to turn down a trade for Philip Rivers. It won't happen before the Oct. 18 trading deadline because the price is inflated during the season when a team is desperate. Besides, San Diego would leave itself vulnerable if Drew Brees was injured. Rivers, of course, was the supporting player in the Eli Manning soap opera a year ago. He was supposed to be the Chargers' starter by now, but he signed late, giving Brees, who was very available in a trade at the time, the chance to start the season. He led the Chargers to a 12-4 record and made the Pro Bowl. San Diego signed Brees to an $8 million contract as the franchise player after the season and Rivers hasn't played a snap in the first three games. Chargers GM A.J. Smith said yesterday not one team has called since the end of last season to check on Rivers' availability. He would be perfect for the Jets. Some teams liked him better than Manning before the draft and now he will have two years of NFL training. Vinny Testaverde's return is a nice story, but he and Brooks Bollinger won't be winning many games. Testaverde thought the only Jets contract in his future was a one-day deal to retire as a Jet. If the Jets finish with a top-five pick and trade it for Rivers, it would allow the Chargers to recoup their draft-choice investment in Rivers, although they have already paid him $14.5 million in signing and option bonuses. Would Smith trade Rivers now? "If I would get a phone call, then I would make a determination," he said. Smith said the Chargers' salary cap is once again in excellent shape and they could afford to franchise Brees again and keep Rivers, too. Rivers is making just $615,000 next season. Keeping Rivers happy on the bench behind a player who is only 26 won't be easy. Smith said he's made no decision on whether he will keep both QBs for 2006. "We have two quarterbacks here. I like that. I like that very much," Smith said. "What do we do? It's an intriguing thing for us. You need one quarterback without a doubt. Some teams have one. I don't know how many have that second. Some don't have any. None. Zero. But to build a team, you need protection. Injuries can knock your team to its knees." The Jets inquired about Washington's Patrick Ramsey. But it doesn't look good on his resume that Joe Gibbs benched him. Ramsey will likely be available after the season. Tennessee's Billy Volek, who played for Jets offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, is insurance behind Steve McNair, who is often banged up. Why would the Titans trade away their security blanket? Free agency doesn't offer much unless the Chargers decide not to keep Brees. If the Jets are really bad, they might be in position to draft Leinart or be close enough to the top of the draft to move up to get him, especially if the 49ers, who just drafted Alex Smith, wind up with the first pick again. "They have six months to figure this out," one GM said. The Jets invested $18 million guaranteed in Pennington before last season. That contract could blow up their salary cap if he can't play again. "No team in the league has faced that," one GM said. "Nobody has given that kind of signing bonus to a player who then had a career-ending injury." Texans team physician Dr. Walter Lowe said yesterday that "recurrence in rotator cuff tears in throwers is not uncommon" and thought Pennington had a good chance to play again. "No question it's harder to come back from the second one. The recovery is longer and it's definitely not as predictable," he said. If Pennington makes it back, and sources say Dr. James Andrews doesn't think the injury is career-threatening, it's a bonus for the Jets. They need to proceed as if he won't.