DECEMBER 6: Despite Monday’s report about Wilson being reluctant to return to action, the Jets will start the former top prospect in Week 14. Saleh confirmed Wilson will be back in New York’s lineup for the matchup against the Texans. The third-year HC notably said (via the New York Post’s Brian Costello) he always believed Wilson was the best healthy QB on the team’s roster, but he wanted to see if Boyle and Siemian could provide a spark.
Notably, Cimini notes Saleh was leaning in this direction Monday but delayed his announcement due to the above-referenced report that surfaced about Wilson’s willingness to play again. For a franchise that has repeatedly missed on QBs, this has been one of its most eventful seasons at the position.
DECEMBER 5: Long tabbed as unrealistic, the Aaron Rodgers journey back to the Jets’ lineup is no longer expected to happen. With the Jets’ losing streak dropping the team to 4-8 and out of realistic playoff contention, the team is stuck with a bottom-end quarterback situation for the season’s final five games.
The starter in the Jets’ past two games, Tim Boyle, is no longer with the team. But Robert Saleh has yet to determine if Zach Wilson or Trevor Siemian will start against the Texans in Week 14. This is obviously a problem the Jets had hoped to bury by acquiring Rodgers, but more Wilson drama has surfaced. A report from The Athletic on Monday indicated Wilson expressed hesitancy about returning to the Jets’ starting lineup, citing injury concerns.
While staying healthy will be important for Wilson’s prospects of receiving another chance elsewhere in 2024, should the Jets finally move on, Saleh said the embattled QB approached him indicating he would like to start again. Though it is unclear if Wilson sought out Saleh because of Monday’s report questioning his interest in returning, Saleh said the quarterback “wouldn’t be here” if he truly did not want to play again this season.
That said, Saleh later indicated during his weekly Michael Kay Show interview (via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini) that it was conceivable Wilson made such a remark to a teammate that ended up being leaked.
“Empathetically, I’m sure there would be,” Saleh said, via Cimini, about a concern regarding Wilson’s head space due to his run of depth chart movement. “We had this story last year and I think it’s different. I think last year he truly lost confidence in himself. I think this year, as demonstrated by [Monday’s meeting], he knows damn well he should be on the football field.”
The Jets have now benched Wilson three times, doing so twice last season and finally parking him for the since-cut Boyle last month. Saleh’s other options being Boyle and Siemian for most of this season represent why Wilson’s leash was so long this year. The fact the former No. 2 overall pick has a viable route back to the Jets’ starting lineup illustrates how bleak this situation has gotten. Wilson’s QBR figure, after a slight Bryce Young elevation, has dropped to last among qualified players this season. But Boyle and Siemian’s struggles in an ugly 13-8 loss to the Falcons have led to Wilson returning to the starter conversation.
While Rodgers no longer appears in the mix to start until 2024, assuming he follows through on his pledge to return for a 20th season, the future Hall of Famer took aim at the Jets organization for the leak that led to the Wilson story coming out this week, Outkick.com’s Armando Salguero notes.
It would cost the Jets $11.2MM to waive Wilson in 2024, the final year of his rookie contract. The BYU product will enter a contract year in 2024, as there is virtually no chance the Jets pick up his fifth-year option. Going further, Cimini adds Wilson will likely be released after the season.
Wilson went first to third to second to first to third on the Jets’ depth chart from his November 2022 benching to the Boyle cut. Because of Boyle’s exit, Wilson will be no worse than No. 2 again on Gang Green’s depth chart. Brett Rypien is expected to play behind Siemian and Wilson against Houston. It certainly appears Wilson will have more chances to close out his third season; they will perhaps be his final opportunities in what has been one of the worst tenures by a first-round QB in recent NFL history.