New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur have publicly committed to continue supporting Zach Wilson as he develops as a quarterback.
Whether or not Wilson starts for the Jets in the middle in 2023, however, is a different story altogether.
It’s been a tough sophomore season for the former No. 2 overall, during which he was twice benched for backups Mike White and Joe Flacco. Still, Saleh stated that he wasn’t ready to bait Wilson just yet.
“It’s about having faith in the person you evaluated, the person you spoke to, the person you invested in, has the ability to go where you think they can can achieve,” Saleh told the Miami Dolphins ahead of the Jets’ Week 18 loss. “The simple answer is, ‘Well, I’ll just get rid of him, get someone new.’ The hard part is staying true to your beliefs and developing a young man who you know is capable of anything, but even that comes with time.”
However, neither Saleh nor Douglas would commit to signing Wilson as the team’s starting quarterback next season due to speculation that the team could field a veteran quarterback to compete with Wilson for a starting role. Saleh only confirmed that Wilson “will have a chance to apply for the starting job,” while Douglas said he and his front office will “explore any opportunities we have to improve this team.”
Wilson himself was far more confident in his chances of regaining his role as the Jets’ No. 1 quarterback. When faced with battling for position with a seasoned veteran, Wilson has vowed he’s up to the challenge.
“I’m going to make life hell for the guy in training 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 negative, it’s positive. It will hopefully make everyone else better.”
The Jets should have several options in the veteran quarterback market this offseason. The Raiders benched Derek Carr ahead of Week 17 and appear poised to either release or trade the nine-year-old starter. Aaron Rodgers didn’t want to return 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 know from their time with the San Francisco 49ers, will probably also be looking for a new home. Lamar Jackson is at an impasse in his contract negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens.
However, Saleh is still publicly optimistic that Wilson’s best days in the NFL are still ahead.
Craig’s crystal ball: Jets will keep Zach Wilson for 2023
“I expect him to jump into his third year and understand how to handle everything,” Saleh said. “I think he will have tremendous growth.”
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