Draft Pick Likely Required For Team Absorb Zach Wilson’s Jets Contract

Not expected to be part of the 2024 Jets, Zach Wilson has been on the trade block for more than a month. The team made it known at the Combine the former No. 2 overall pick had permission to seek a trade partner. More than five weeks later, Wilson remains a Jet.

Although Wilson is attached to a rookie contract, it is the final year of a deal that involves a No. 2 salary slot. Wilson signed a four-year, $35.15MM contract in 2021. The remaining $5.45MM owed to the three-year starter has brought a sticking point in trade talks.

[RELATED: Revisiting 2021 First-Round QB Picks]

Offers are believed to have come in for Wilson, but those evidently have not satisfied the Jets. The delay may well stem from teams wanting the Jets to pay some of Wilson’s guarantee or seeking to make this a weighted pick-swap exchange. For a trade to be completed, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini notes the sense around the NFL points to the Jets needing to send over a draft pick to convince a team to add all or most of Wilson’s money to their payroll.

In February, Cimini mentioned a sixth- or seventh-round pick being potential compensation for Wilson. Though, the notion of a mid-round swap came about in that piece as well. The Jets are unlikely to release Wilson, as the cut would tag them with $11.18MM in dead money. That amount would be halved for 2024 should the team designate Wilson as a post-June 1 cut.

The Jets have also seen many teams fill their QB2 posts. A few did so via trade, with the Steelers (Justin Fields), Eagles (Kenny Pickett), Jaguars (Mac Jones), Seahawks (Sam Howell) and Cardinals (Desmond Ridder) make deals to acquire recent starters and make them backups. A few other teams have signed backups. The Bills (Mitchell Trubisky), Browns (Jameis Winston), C0lts (Joe Flacco), Chiefs (Carson Wentz), Rams (Jimmy Garoppolo), Giants (Drew Lock), 49ers (Joshua Dobbs), Titans (Mason Rudolph) and Commanders (Marcus Mariota) have added clear-cut backup options. This will limit the Wilson market, and while it should be expected the BYU alum will have another chance somewhere, the Jets may need to sweeten the pot for that to happen.

The Steelers traded a fourth-round pick in a Pickett-centered deal that brought back a third from the Eagles. The Commanders attached fourth- and sixth-round picks to send Howell to the Seahawks, who supplied third- and fifth-rounders. The 49ers did not need to add any inducement in the Trey Lance swap, with that Cowboys deal being Lance for a fourth-rounder. Chosen one pick after Wilson, Lance remains on the Cowboys’ payroll at $5.31MM guaranteed.

Given Wilson’s performance and contract, the Jets should not be expected to upgrade in the middle rounds in any Wilson swap. With teams knowing the Jets would face that dead money penalty by cutting him, offers will not be particularly impressive.

View Comments (18)