The Jets are preparing to fight for their playoff lives in Week 17. However, there are still rumblings about what New York will do at quarterback next season. And, will those decisions include Zach Wilson?
Recent reports made it seem like the former second-overall pick’s tenure with Gang Green was finished. While that still could be true, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport is hearing differently. His sources are saying Jets general manager, Joe Douglas, has no plans to shop Wilson on the trade market this offseason.
The Jets’ reasons why (listed by Rapoport) aren’t outrageous, either: he’s a hard worker, is a good teammate and is smart. Essentially, they think he can figure things out if given more time. It’s also worth noting that outside of Wilson’s inconsistent on-field results, injuries have hampered him from getting full run as a starter.
Most of all, though, is Wilson’s rookie contract. All $35.2 million is guaranteed, including a $22.9 million signing bonus that was already awarded. One would imagine it’d be hard to find a trade partner given Wilson’s situation.
The Year 2 QB Leap hasn’t happened. In fact, he’s been benched two different times and is owed nearly $10 million for the next two seasons. So, the Jets may not have a choice but to try and make things work with the signal-caller.
There was one part of Rapoport’s report that stuck out to me, though. It should also give Jets fans hope if they’re desperate for Wilson to continue his career elsewhere:
No one can predict the future, and the NFL offseason always provides the unexpected. But this is the plan going in.
Holding onto Wilson can be part of the Jets’ original plan, but it’s not like New York won’t get tempted with other options once the offseason gets underway. Several veteran quarterbacks are set to hit free agency. Options could also be available via trade. One example is Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders (although his situation is a little more complicated).
Let’s also not forget that Mike White can be a free agent at the season’s end. If he leads Gang Green to the playoffs, he could be in line for a nice raise from his $2.5 million salary. Even if Gang Green doesn’t get to the playoffs and White just plays well, this is still quite possible. And who knows, maybe the Jets would think about chatting with Giants quarterback Daniel Jones when they’re able to.
The point is that the best-laid plans can still be ripped up depending on how things change. There are only two weeks left in the regular season. However, a lot can happen between now and March.
New York’s reported reasoning for staying committed to Wilson’s development makes sense. While the on-field results haven’t been good, the sample is only 22 games. But regardless of whether the Jets make the playoffs or not, it looks like this roster has matured enough to be a quarterback away from really making some noise. Will the front office stay the course and try to develop Wilson, or will they do away with that plan based on temptations on the free-agent and trade markets?
We’ll see soon enough. All it takes is one sequence of events or one conversation to change the complexion of everything. Even with all the good qualities Wilson may have, it’s not like he’s instilled a bunch of confidence in the front office based on his play.