But does that even make sense anymore for New York, which picked Wilson at second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Going back to last season, the Jets and Wilson appeared destined for a breakup. New York essentially demoted him to the bottom of the depth chart. Quarterbacks Mike White, Joe Flacco and Chris Streveler played over Wilson at different points in the season. The Jets were desperate for a serviceable quarterback during their playoff push. And largely due to their shortcomings at the position, New York missed the postseason.
That’s why the Jets were committed to adding a veteran quarterback. They arguably got the best one on the market: Rodgers. But before New York traded for him, Wilson told reporters he would make life miserable for the starting QB by putting up a fight in the competition for the starting job. It’s fair to say that’s not happening here.
Even so, Rodgers played along.
“He’s going to make my life hell in practice,” Rodgers said two days after the trade, via ESPN, “and I’m going to make his life heaven off the field.”
Wilson has expressed in the past how much he admires Rodgers. So if there’s mutual respect, maybe this can all work out.
The case for keeping Wilson and developing him
Wilson’s value is near zero. New York can’t expect to get much, if anything, in return for him in a trade. It’s tough to consider the team getting a sixth-round pick in exchange for a player it picked at second-overall, which — at the time — was an asset that would be worth multiple first-round picks.
So given that NFL teams can carry 90 players until Aug. 29 (when they trim to 53), the Jets could see it as smart business to develop Wilson for the time being.
How is the working relationship so far?
“I think it’s been good. … He’s been a sponge. I think Zach has handled this as good as a professional can handle this,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Zach is going to get so much better through this experience. And I am confident that he is going to turn into the player we know he can be.”
Wilson has a career completion percentage of 55.2. He has thrown 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 22 games played during his first two seasons. He averages 182.8 passing yards per game. On film, Wilson looks like he’s still struggling with basic passing concepts. He is prone to improvisation. He struggles with downfield accuracy, perhaps in part because he was reported to be dealing with a case of the yips in 2022. Many of his pre-draft weakness remain all too present in his game in the NFL.
“Part of my opportunity here is to be a great mentor to him and to teach him fundamental stuff,” Rogers said, via ESPN. “To allow him to be around me and, through osmosis, just pick up some things that can help him in his career. That’s what happened to me, being around Brett [Favre].”
The difference between Rodgers and Wilson? We didn’t see much of what Rodgers could do in the years he backed up Favre. So there’s no saying how the development process worked for him. Was he a mess, like Wilson? There’s no saying.
Maybe — just maybe — Wilson can develop behind Rodgers, who considers retirement every offseason. If he leaves the Jets this year or next, maybe they can develop Wilson to be The Guy when Rodgers leaves.
So what might it cost them? That’s the real question.