New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur have publicly pledged to continue helping Zach Wilson develop as a quarterback.
Whether or not Wilson starts under center for the Jets in 2023, however, is an entirely different story.
It was a rough sophomore season for the former No. 2 overall pick, one in which he was taken twice by backups Mike White and Joe Flacco. Still, Saleh stated that he wasn’t ready to cut the bait on Wilson just yet.
“It’s about having faith that the person you’ve evaluated, the person you’ve talked to, the person you’ve invested in has the ability to go where you think they’re capable of going,” Saleh said before the loss of Week 18 of the Jets. to the Miami Dolphins. “The easy answer is, ‘Well, just get rid of him, go find someone new.’ , but again, that comes with time.”
However, neither Saleh nor Douglas would commit to Wilson as the team’s starting quarterback next season amid speculation the team could bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Wilson for a starting role. Saleh only stated that Wilson will have “an opportunity to compete” for the starting job, while Douglas said he and his front office will “explore every avenue we have to improve this team.”
Wilson himself was much more confident in his chances of regaining his role as the Jets’ No. 1 quarterback. If he has to battle a seasoned veteran for the position, Wilson vowed he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m going to make this guy’s life hell in practice every day,” Wilson said. “I’m going to go out there and do my best to show the coaches that I deserve to be there. It’s not in a negative way, it’s in a positive way. It’s making everybody else better, hopefully.”
The Jets should have multiple options in the veteran quarterback market this offseason. The Raiders benched Derek Carr before Week 17 and appear poised to release or trade the nine-year starter. Aaron Rodgers did not commit to returning to Green Bay after the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday night.
[NFL Odds: Lines on Derek Carr’s next team, including Colts, Jets, Patriots]
Jimmy Garoppolo, whom Saleh and LeFleur have known since their time with the San Francisco 49ers, will likely be looking for a new home as well. Lamar Jackson is still at an impasse in contract talks with the Baltimore Ravens.
Still, Saleh is still publicly optimistic that Wilson’s best days in the NFL are ahead of him.
Craig’s Crystal Ball: Jets will keep Zach Wilson in 2023
“Hopefully he’ll make a jump in his third year and figure out how to handle everything,” Saleh said. “I think it’s going to have tremendous growth.”
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