Zach Wilson

QB Rumors: Packers, Carr, Burrow, Colts

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to play in 2023, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). Fowler cites the ~$60MM balloon payment that Rodgers is due between March and the start of the 2023 regular season as a motivating factor for the four-time MVP, and assuming he does want to suit up, Green Bay will have to decide if it wants him back or wants to seek a trade.

The club’s top power brokers, GM Brian Gutekunst and HC Matt LaFleur, have publicly indicated they want Rodgers back in Wisconsin, which could — in Fowler’s estimation — force Jordan Love to request a trade. The 2020 first-rounder believes he is ready to become a QB1, and as he is entering the final year of his rookie deal, now would be a good time for him to get that chance.

Here are more QB rumors from around the league:

  • In the same piece linked above, Fowler says that the Derek Carr sweepstakes will start to heat up as we get closer to the Super Bowl. Carr, whose contract with the Raiders includes a no-trade clause, is beginning to do his homework on possible landing spots, and Fowler hears (unsurprisingly) that the Jets, Saints, and Commanders are expected to have interest. Several clubs have already reached out to Las Vegas to lay the groundwork for trade talks.
  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be eligible for an extension when Cincinnati’s season comes to an end, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the club wants to get a new deal done this offseason. A Burrow extension will be hugely expensive, and owner Mike Brown and Burrow himself acknowledged the challenges that such a deal creates for roster construction (via Ben Baby of ESPN.com). Of course, the Bengals will have to operate within the same salary cap confines as every other team in the league, but as Rapoport observes, the small-market franchise does have more cash on hand these days thanks in large part to the success that the team has enjoyed with Burrow under center.
  • In a comprehensive piece that is well-worth a read for Colts fans, a piece that details owner Jim Irsay‘s increasingly impulsive decision-making and the ensuing fallout, Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required) says that Irsay wanted to draft and develop a rookie QB in the 2021 draft. However, then-head coach Frank Reich convinced Irsay that he could resuscitate Carson Wentz‘s career. When that experiment went awry, Irsay began to lose faith in Reich, who apologized to his boss for his misstep. The team again opted for an established passer last offseason when it engineered the Matt Ryan trade, and in light of that failure, Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required) believes Indianapolis is finally going to eschew the veteran QB route. The Colts, armed with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 draft, are in prime position to select a top collegiate signal-caller and could trade up to land the player of their choice.
  • Dolphins GM Chris Grier recently confirmed reports that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023, as Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald writes. Grier says the medical professionals he has consulted have told him that the concussions Tagovailoa suffered this season will not make him more prone to concussions going forward. He also said “everything’s on the table for us” when asked if the team would exercise Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option for 2024 and/or engage in extension talks.
  • The Jets may keep 2021 first-rounder Zach Wilson on the roster in 2023, but the team is widely expected to pursue a veteran like Carr or Rodgers to upgrade the quarterback position. Apparently, that will be a welcome development for some of Wilson’s teammates and coaches, who “rejoiced” when Wilson was benched in favor of Mike White in November and who were disappointed when Wilson was reinserted into the lineup following White’s rib injuries (via Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic (subscription required)). Regardless of whether Wilson’s apologies to his teammates in the wake of his failure to accept much blame for his poor performance in New York’s Week 11 loss to the Patriots helped him regain the respect of the locker room, the consensus seems to be that he is not the passer who will guide the Jets back to the playoffs.

Woody Johnson Prepared To Pay Up For QB Addition, Addresses HC-GM Setup

Everything about the second half of this Jets season pointed to the team entering the 2023 quarterback market. Their owner all but confirmed it Thursday.

Woody Johnson said the Jets will be prepared to spend for a veteran quarterback. The team has not gone in this direction in a while, but its past two top-five draft choices — Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson — have not panned out. Wilson’s struggles ended up holding back a vastly improved defense, something Johnson obviously does not want to recur.

Absolutely,” Johnson said (via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini) when asked he was willing to spend for a veteran. “We’ve got a cap, so there’s an amount you can spend. But, yeah, yeah. That’s kind of the missing piece.”

Robert Saleh added the Jets will be “aggressive as heck” regarding the quarterback position. A veteran pursuit will mark a change of pace for the organization.

Not only have the Jets devoted their QB investments to rookies over the past five years, they had low- or midlevel QB contracts — Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick — on the payroll in the years before Darnold’s arrival. The organization which tried Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith throughout the first half of the 2010s last made a major veteran investment back in 2008, when it traded for Brett Favre. As such, the Jets appearing serious about trying to pair their reloaded defense with a readier QB would qualify as a significant development.

Wilson’s disastrous start to his career led to a second-season benching — almost unheard of for a modern top-five QB pick — and Johnson said the team likely erred by not bringing in a veteran last year to ease the BYU prospect’s transition. Since-departed OC Mike LaFleur said the same recently.

Zach had a tough year. There’s no denying that,” Johnson said. “I still have confidence that I’ve seen some kernels of real talent there. …[His] confidence level, whatever it was, went down, so that was certainly frustrating for him. And then we had that rotation, which is very hard to do in the NFL — changing quarterbacks.”

The Jets attempting to fix their Wilson mistake with a veteran move has seemed likely for weeks, since the team demoted the former No. 2 overall selection to the third-string level. LaFleur’s exit clouds a potential Jimmy Garoppolo signing. Previously, a LaFleur-Garoppolo reunion made some sense; the ex-49ers duo reuniting would have allowed for a smooth transition. But other QBs will be available.

New York has the option of trading for Derek Carr in February; Las Vegas is prepared to shop him. Otherwise, Smith has been connected to staying with the Seahawks. The Giants now want to re-sign Daniel Jones. Gang Green’s weaponry and defense could conceivably attract Tom Brady, though it is not yet certain if he will play an age-46 season, and Aaron Rodgers‘ Green Bay future is once again murky. The Raiders, who are also connected to Garoppolo, are seemingly set to be a Brady suitor — if the all-time great wishes to play in 2023. The Ravens will not let Lamar Jackson hit the market. The former MVP hitting the trade block after two offseasons of failed negotiations would certainly test Johnson’s pledge to pay up for a QB.

Johnson was serving as ambassador to the United Kingdom when the Jets hired Saleh and GM Joe Douglas. Despite inheriting the two, Johnson said Thursday he would not require a 2023 playoff berth for Saleh and Douglas to stay. However, he also did not confirm the duo would be safe with another postseason absence. The Jets’ 12-season playoff drought is by far the NFL’s longest active streak.

No, I don’t do mandates,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a long wait. Fifty-four years from the last Super Bowl is too long, way too long. I’d like to change that fast, but mandates don’t work.”

Saleh said LaFleur had other options, but it is interesting the Jets will allow their two-year OC to explore them rather than ensure he came back. This certainly points to a firing. Johnson said (via the New York Post’s Brian Costello, on Twitter) he was not part of the decision that led LaFleur out, though he also noted he had private conversations with Douglas, Saleh and LaFleur and offered input. The team is now shopping for a new OC.

Jets Rumors: QBs, Offseason, Injuries

After a season that saw the Jets start four different quarterbacks throughout the year, general manager Joe Douglas knows that New York has “a lot of work to do” at the position, according to Connor Hughes of SNY. Of the four passers who started games for the Jets this season, only second-year starter Zach Wilson and practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler are set to return to New York in 2023, after Streveler was announced to have signed a futures contract earlier this week. Veterans Joe Flacco and Mike White, on the other hand, are set to hit free agency.

Wilson was benched midway through the season and saw White take over starting duties. When White was injured, Wilson took over as the primary backup but was soon relegated back to the bench as White got healthy and Flacco started the season finale. Despite rumors that the Jets could move on from Wilson in the offseason, Douglas iterated that New York has “never been a team that has given up on talent early.” Hughes claims that the team expects to continue to work with Wilson moving forward. As for Wilson’s chances of starting, Douglas washed his hands of the decision, deferring the call to head coach Robert Saleh, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

Cimini also noted last week a comment from then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who speculated that it “would’ve benefited” Wilson to allow him to sit and learn from a veteran. Unfortunately, when the team drafted Wilson, they had no such veteran. White had no NFL experience at the time, despite having been in the league for three years, and the only other quarterback on the roster was James Morgan. The team eventually brought in that experience, signing Josh Johnson late in that year’s training camp and trading midseason to bring in Flacco. LaFleur claimed he hasn’t done a good enough job of developing Wilson, saying that if any position player isn’t producing to the expected level, it’s a failure of the coach.

Wilson could potentially see his competition from this season return. White, who took the reins from Wilson this year, told Cimini that there is mutual interest in his return to the Jets from free agency. He also noted that situations change quickly in the league, hinting that he will keep his eyes open for other opportunities.

Here are a few other rumors from the Jets’ building as the franchise readies for the offseason:

  • Cimini took to ESPN as the Jets’ regular season came to an end and laid out the offseason plan for New York. Setting aside the search for a starting quarterback, mentioned in part above, and the search for a new course on offense after the firing of LaFleur, the Jets’ biggest focus will be free agency and salary cap space. To create cap space for free agent shopping, some guys with big cap hits may find themselves on the chopping block. Cutting players like wide receiver Corey Davis and offensive tackle Duane Brown could result in cap savings of $10.5MM and $5.3MM, respectively. Even players who have made significant contributions may find themselves in danger because of their salaries. Defensive end Carl Lawson could provide $15MM of cap savings, safety Jordan Whitehead $7.5MM, and return specialist Braxton Berrios $5MM. Not to mention star linebacker C.J. Mosley who is set to have a 2023 cap charge totaling $21.5MM.
  • In terms of what to look for in free agency, offensive line struggles severely hampered the team’s success this year. Starting guards Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker should return next season. After undergoing triceps surgery, Vera-Tucker is expected to be back in time for training camp, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Tackle Mekhi Becton is a question mark after missing the team’s last 33 games due to injuries and weight issues. Becton told Hughes he feels “real good” after losing a “lot” of weight and will be ready for Organized Team Activities. If Becton can’t deliver, the Jets are in trouble as they will watch tackle George Fant hit free agency and Brown could be a cap casualty or could just retire. Starting center Connor McGovern is also set to hit free agency.
  • While offensive line will be an important position to build, their most important signing may come on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams will be with the team through next year due to the fifth-round option of his rookie contract, but that may not be enough to satisfy Douglas and company. Williams has established himself as one of the best at his position and will likely expect to be paid like it. Douglas will want to find an extended contract for Williams long before the idea of free agency enters his mind.
  • Lawson had a strong first year in New York despite coming back from an Achilles injury. Lawson’s recovery hit a snag when he needed a second surgery. He even tweaked something in rehab and was expected to miss a chunk of the season, according to Hughes. Despite not even running until about a month before camp, Lawson started all 17 games and recorded his highest sack total since his rookie season.
  • Running back Breece Hall‘s rookie season was cut short after the second-round pick suffered a torn ACL in October. According to Costello, Hall claims that he will be ready for the start of next year.

Jets To Start QB Joe Flacco In Week 18; Mike White Has Five Broken Ribs

4:15pm: Make that five broken ribs for White, who confirmed the total Friday (via NJ.com’s Andy Vasquez). Two-plus months from free agency, White said the injuries are not expected to be an issue for too long into the offseason.

10:24am: The Jets cleared Mike White for a Week 17 start in what became a do-or-die game. White struggled in a one-sided loss to the Seahawks, but his rib trouble became an issue early in that outing.

A hit near the end of the first half in the Jets’ 23-6 loss in Seattle provided a setback for White, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the veteran backup-turned-starter is dealing with four broken ribs (Twitter link). White had attempted to play through this issue this week, but Robert Saleh said an end-of-half blow became a major issue (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, on Twitter) henceforth. Set to close out his age-37 season, Joe Flacco will receive the call against the Dolphins.

White’s injury deteriorated throughout this week, Rapoport adds, nixing plans to start. The popular QB’s season will end early because of the injury that blunted his momentum. The Jets’ Week 17 loss eliminated them from playoff contention, providing little reason for them to trot out their preferred starter again. Barring a new contract, White is ticketed for free agency in March.

The Jets are not deviating from their latest plan to give Zach Wilson a reset. Wilson will again be inactive, with Saleh adding (via Cimini) the team is focusing on Wilson’s development for the 2023 season at this point. The former No. 2 overall pick has been twice removed from his starting role this season. After having been bumped to the backup gig following demotion No. 1, the erratic BYU product was inactive for Week 17. Wilson’s future with the Jets is up in the air, though the team continues to publicly convey long-term support. Wilson is signed through the 2024 season.

White’s clearance for Week 17 injected some hope into the Jets’ building after Wilson’s meltdown against the Jaguars, but the injury he suffered against the Bills weeks ago ended up being too much to overcome. He strung together back-to-back solid performances against the Bears and Vikings, but he will exit his contract year in need of more recovery time.

Flacco, who started over White in place of an injured Wilson during the season’s first three weeks, is also playing on an expiring contract. The Jets will end the season with Flacco and White each having started four games, with Wilson getting the call in the other nine. It can be safely assumed Saleh’s team, which improved significantly on defense this season, will be on the hunt for a veteran starter option this coming offseason.

Jets Not Looking To Move On From Zach Wilson?

The Jets have no plans to shop embattled quarterback Zach Wilson this offseason, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. “We’re not going to quit on him,” head coach Robert Saleh said in the wake of New York’s Week 16 loss to the Jaguars, a game in which Wilson completed nine of 18 passes for 92 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. Per Rapoport, the organization’s other top decisionmakers share those sentiments, despite recent reports that Gang Green is prepared to part ways with Wilson at season’s end.

Wilson’s uninspiring play has compelled the Jets to turn back to Mike White for their critical Week 17 matchup against the Seahawks. Of course, the club had benched Wilson in favor of White in Week 12, and Wilson got his job back for a brief time only because White was dealing with multiple fractured ribs. Indeed, Wilson’s performance in the Jacksonville contest was so poor that he was replaced in the third quarter by Chris Streveler, a 2018 UDFA who had thrown a grand total of 17 regular season passes.

In his 22 games under center since being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, Wilson sports an 8-14 record and has completed 55.2% of his passes for 15 touchdowns against 18 picks, which amounts to a dismal QB rating of 70.9. While growing pains and a general lack of talent around him in his rookie campaign can certainly excuse some of his first-year difficulties, his lack of progress is alarming.

However, as Wilson’s rookie contract is fully-guaranteed, releasing him this offseason is not realistic, and even a trade would result in a negative cap charge if it were consummated prior to June 1. So from a financial perspective alone, it makes sense for the Jets to continue their efforts to develop the BYU product and generate something of a positive return from their investment of premium draft capital.

White, meanwhile, has had several impressive games over the past two years, but his rate stats are not much better than Wilson’s. Still, one agent who represents prominent quarterbacks tells Rich Cimini of ESPN.com that White, who will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in March, has enough quality tape to appeal to teams looking for a bridge passer. If he plays well over the remainder of the season, the former fifth-round pick of the Cowboys could land a short-term deal worth at least $10MM-$12MM per year. While the Jets may consider re-signing White, it seems likely that they will at least explore more established options like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo before going that route, especially since they appear to be putting their rebuilding phase behind them.

In addition to a new quarterback, the club may be looking for a new offensive coordinator. Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post — who, incidentally, is among those who believe Wilson will be jettisoned in the coming months — cites one high-ranking executive who says owner Woody Johnson will want to fire current OC Mike LaFleur. La Canfora believes Johnson could consider even more dramatic coaching or front office shakeups, and while Cimini concedes that Johnson’s patience will be put to the test if the Jets finish the season on a six-game losing streak, the ESPN scribe thinks the owner will realize his organization is in generally good shape under Saleh and GM Joe Douglas (the QB situation notwithstanding).

If the Jets do look to trade Wilson, La Canfora reports that they will not receive more than a fifth-round pick in return.

Jets QB Mike White Cleared To Return; Zach Wilson To Be Inactive

The Jets’ playoff hopes have received a significant boost today. Quarterback Mike White has been medically cleared to return to game action in time for Week 17, and he will resume his role as the team’s starting quarterback (Twitter link via Brian Costello of the New York Post).

The news comes after White missed the past two games with multiple fractured ribs. He exited the Jets’ loss to the Bills on more than one occasion after taking significant hits, and was clearly playing through pain by the end of the contest. He underwent testing from numerous doctors in his push to return as quickly as possible, but ultimately missed the past two games while recovering.

That opened the door to Zach Wilson taking over the No. 1 role once again, after he had been benched in favor of White earlier in the year. The 2021 second overall pick delivered a better performance than most of his others during his brief NFL tenure in a 20-17 loss to the Lions in Week 15. However, he followed that up with a showing last Thursday which included 92 passing yards and an interception. Wilson was replaced by Chris Streveler midway through New York’s hugely underwhelming loss to Jacksonville, a result which put their playoff chances in significant jeopardy.

More importantly, it marked another missed opportunity for Wilson to establish himself as the franchise signal-caller he was drafted to become. That has led to recent reporting that the Jets could be looking to part ways with the BYU product this offseason, despite two years (with the potential of three, due to the fifth-year option) remaining on his rookie contract. Such a move would constitute an abject failure for all parties involved, given the draft capital New York invested in Wilson to provide them with long-term stability at the position.

As White earns his job back, Wilson will again drop to the No. 3 spot on the Jets’ depth chart. Same as it was in the weeks immediately following Wilson’s demotion, the second-year passer is set to be inactive going forward. Joe Flacco will back up White, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets. Barring injury, White is the starter for the rest of the season, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Since his return from an August PCL injury, Wilson has gone from starter to third-stringer to second-stringer, back to starter and now back to the third-string depth chart slot.

Despite Wilson’s rough ride as Gang Green’s starter in his second season, Robert Saleh still places faith in his long-term value. The Jets are shutting him down again, and although Sunday’s report indicated this could be it for the ex-BYU starter in the Big Apple, Saleh is again attempting to soften the landing here.

The plan for Zach hasn’t changed. I still think he has a future here,” Saleh said, via Cimini. “I still think he’s going to be a really good quarterback. He needs time to just kind of sit back and continue the development that we were trying re-kick start, if you will, after the New England game. We still have him in our future and in our plans.”

White flashed potential while filling in for an injured Wilson last season, and has likewise done enough in his three starts in 2022 to earn head coach Saleh’s trust in the final weeks of the season. The former Cowboys fifth-rounder has averaged just over 317 passing yards per game, though that figure has only resulted in three touchdown passes against a pair of interceptions. Still, the offense’s overall productivity with him under center makes the decision to go back to him as soon as possible an unsurprising one.

White is a pending free agent, something which, along with the uncertainty surrounding Wilson’s future in the Big Apple, leaves the quarterback position one filled with plenty of intrigue heading into 2023. In the immediate future, though, White will look to end the four-game losing streak which has the Jets currently sitting at 7-8. A Wild Card spot is still possible if he can regain the form he showed prior to the injury.

Jets To Move On From Zach Wilson This Offseason?

Week 16 marked the latest underwhelming performance by the Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, and it has invited further speculation that his days in New York are numbered. Reporting from earlier today points to a parting of ways in the near future.

According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the Jets can be expected to move on from the former No. 2 overall pick this offseason (video link). That would represent a disastrous end to his tenure in the Big Apple given his draft stock, but not much of a surprise considering his struggles in 2022 in particular. Wilson made his second consecutive start on Thursday, a game in which he totaled 92 scoreless passing yards on 9-of-18 passing with an interception.

That performance led to Chris Streveler taking over under center for the remainder of the game. Glazer notes that Wilson’s confidence was shot before the contest, and it took a significant hit after what transpired in the Jets’ loss to the Jaguars. The game dropped New York to 7-8 on the season, and leaves them with a long road back into the postseason after an encouraging start to the campaign.

2022 began, of course, with veteran Joe Flacco operating as the starter for the first three weeks as Wilson recovered from knee surgery. The latter has not taken the Year 2 jump many were expecting after his promising college career at BYU and a number of moves the team made this past offseason which provided upgrades at the skill positions and along the offensive line. The unit has seen more success with Mike White at the helm, but his fractured ribs necessitated the return to Wilson – something head coach Robert Saleh had previously stated would take place at some point. Glazer adds that White will start next week if he is able to do so.

Wilson, 23, still has two years remaining on his rookie contract – with the potential of a fifth-year option being tacked on next spring. His scheduled cap hits for 2023 and 2024 are $9.5MM and $11.1MM, respectively. While that would make him a highly cost-effective starter for any potential acquiring team, the far more likely scenario would be a change of scenery resulting in time spent as a backup.

Should Wilson be traded away, New York would also need to begin yet another search for a long-term quarterback. 2018 first-rounder Sam Darnold was tapped for that role, but the deal sending him to Carolina opened the door for Wilson to be drafted. Another trade sending a high-profile signal-caller elsewhere would mark a significant blow to the prospects for a franchise which has otherwise shown signs of improvement this year.

QB Notes: Jets, Pickett, Chiefs, Carr

Zach Wilson will start for the Jets in Week 16, Robert Saleh confirmed. This was the expected Jets path, given the updates on Mike White‘s injured ribs. The short-week assignment made White’s road back tougher, and the team’s preferred starter will have a mini-bye to recover ahead of a possible Week 17 return. White attempted to receive clearance from as many as 10 independent doctors last week, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com adds he is still consulting with doctors. But the Jets are proceeding cautiously with the fifth-year passer. Saleh does not believe the injury White suffered against the Bills is a season-ending malady, Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. White is due for unrestricted free agency in March.

Here is the latest from the quarterback landscape:

  • After Mitch Trubisky played in most of the past two Steelers games, the team is ready to move its rookie back into action. Mike Tomlin expects Kenny Pickett to start Saturday against the Raiders, Teresa Varley of Steelers.com tweets. Pickett has now sustained two concussions this season.
  • The conditional 2024 pick the Browns obtained from the Panthers for Baker Mayfield will be a fifth-round choice, David Newton of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter). Mayfield needed to hit the 70% snap barrier with the Panthers. The new Rams starter did not come especially close to that, being demoted and then waived.
  • Derek Carr‘s recent Raiders extension — a three-year, $121.4MM pact — gives the team a three-day window following Super Bowl LVII to jettison the quarterback and save $40.5MM. Carr trade rumors are nothing new; he loomed as a trade candidate for much of the Jon Gruden period. But a GM informed the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora he does expect Carr to finally be dealt. Despite the Raiders’ struggles, Carr ranks 10th in QBR. The team’s blockbuster trade for Carr college teammate Davante Adams also might make a trade a tough sell, and the prospect of the Raiders needing to find an upgrade — an impediment to a trade during Gruden’s stay — also makes this a risky path. In his ninth season and having made 141 career starts, Carr is the longest-tenured starting quarterback in Raiders history.
  • Making a push for a second MVP, Patrick Mahomes offered a bit of insight on how he ended up in Kansas City. The sixth-year Chiefs passer said, after a productive meeting with Andy Reid ahead of the 2017 draft, he spoke with multiple teams who indicated they would draft him. During an appearance on Travis and Jason Kelce‘s New Heights podcast (video link), Mahomes said he informed the Chiefs they would need to trade up to at least No. 11 to land him. Mahomes said he did not know the extent of the Saints’ interest at the time — New Orleans held the No. 11 pick — but the Cardinals’ affinity for then-Texas Tech prospect has been known for some time. Arizona picked 13th that year. The Browns also traded their No. 12 pick to the Texans, who chose Deshaun Watson. The Chiefs traded their No. 27 choice, a 2017 third-rounder and their 2018 first to the Bills to secure the No. 10 draft slot. That ended up being a franchise-changing decision.

Jets To Start Zach Wilson In Week 15

DECEMBER 18: In addition to Week 15’s tilt with the Lions, White will likely miss the Jets’ Week 16 matchup with the Jaguars as well, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link). Wilson will therefore have a chance to win his job back sooner than expected.

DECEMBER 16: Mike White‘s rib injury will sideline him for the Jets’ pivotal Week 15 game against the Lions, meaning Zach Wilson will end up going from the third-string job to the starter in a week’s time.

The Jets announced Wilson would become White’s backup this week, with Joe Flacco being bumped down to No. 3 again. That shift will now rise in relevance. Doctors will not clear White ahead of the Jets’ Sunday tilt, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Robert Saleh has since announced it will be Wilson against Detroit.

After being forced to leave last week’s game twice, White will be given at least a week for additional recovery. White re-entered the Jets’ Bills rematch after both hits, drawing considerable praise for his toughness from teammates, and has practiced in a limited capacity twice this week. It was believed White, who said he is dealing with multiple rib fractures (via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini, on Twitter), would be able to go. But Jets doctors are not ready to clear their starter for contact just yet, per Schefter. This could be a multiweek injury, if doctors determine another hit could lead to internal damage, Cimini adds (via Twitter).

Saleh said the decision to move Wilson from No. 3 to No. 2 on the depth chart was actually made the Friday before the Jets-Bills game, Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. Flacco still dressed and entered the game to replace White, losing a fumble during one of his seven snaps, but the team had decided Wilson would dress this week ahead of time.

Upon taking the rare step to bench a top-five quarterback pick for performance reasons in his second season, Saleh said the plan was for Wilson to play again this year. This will be an opportunity for the former unquestioned Jets starter to regain some momentum, and Wilson playing well would certainly reopen the door to another promotion. But the second-year passer struggled to the point Saleh had little choice — as far as his team’s playoff push was concerned — but to bench him last month. White has offered better performances since returning to the QB1 role.

Saleh did not confirm Wilson would remain the starter if he fares well Sunday, via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter), but it would obviously be in the Jets’ best interests to see their highly drafted QB earn the starting job back. The Jets bailed on a former No. 3 pick (Sam Darnold) to select Wilson second overall, despite the BYU product not having a sustained run as a top prospect like Darnold did. Wilson has not shown much to indicate he will be a long-term option for the Jets, who have built a strong enough defense to make a surprise playoff push. Football Outsiders gives the Jets a 40.5% chance to qualify for the postseason, but a loss this week would increase the degree of difficulty in a conference that has two other 7-6 teams — the Patriots and Chargers. Entering Week 15, the Jets are just outside the AFC’s seven-team bracket.

Wilson’s 72.6 passer rating ranks last among qualified starters. He threw four touchdown passes in his seven starts this season. Flacco’s five (all in the season’s first three games, as he started in place of an injured Wilson) still lead the team. Wilson’s comments after his most recent start — a loss to the Patriots that included 103 total yards, a bottom-five mark in Jets history — rankled some of his teammates, and select Jets had expressed skepticism about the would-be starter this offseason. Although Wilson is under contract through 2024, considerable doubt about his status beyond this season has emerged. A solid performance this week would help here, though it could also complicate the current Jets’ QB situation.

Latest On Jets’ Quarterback Situation

The Jets will soon check another depth chart-configuration box at quarterback. Robert Saleh said Wednesday Zach Wilson will move back into uniform by becoming the team’s backup in Week 15.

Since being benched following the Jets’ second loss to the Patriots, Wilson spent the past three games as the team’s third-stringer. He is now back in front of Joe Flacco, who has been demoted for a second time this season. Flacco, Wilson and new starter Mike White have each spent time in all three positions on the team’s depth chart this season.

[RELATED: Who Will Be Jets’ Starting QB In 2023?]

For those keeping track of this jagged journey, Flacco has gone from QB1 (due to Wilson’s injury) to 2 to 3 to 2 and now back to 3. Wilson has gone from 1 to 3 to 2, with White climbing from 3 to 2 to 1 this season. Saleh began the week noncommittal about Wilson dressing again, but Saleh has said the hope is the former No. 2 overall pick plays again this season. The second-year Jets HC praised Wilson’s accountability since his demotion.

Wilson’s personal QBs coach, former Jets assistant John Beck, said (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com) he does not think the former No. 2 overall pick ever expected to be benched. Wilson is the first top-five QB draftee to be benched for performance reasons in his second season since Akili Smith 22 years ago. The Jets have shown a higher offensive floor with White, even though the team has lost two of the latter’s three starts (to admittedly strong opposition, in the Vikings and Bills). It is difficult to see them pivoting back to Wilson, though White was forced to leave Sunday’s game twice after hard hits.

White is expected to be ready for Week 15, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes, adding that his rib injury is believed to be a pain tolerance issue. White’s toughness in Buffalo earned him rave reviews from teammates. This came weeks after a report surfaced indicating select Jets were skeptical about Wilson this offseason. In 129 attempts, White is completing 62% of his passes. That is down from his 132-attempt 2021, when the former Cowboys fifth-rounder completed 66.7% of his throws. White sports a 49.1 QBR after three starts; his 2021 QBR sat at 50.5 before Wilson retook the reins after recovering from a PCL injury.

The Jets initially acquired White in 2019, when he signed with their practice squad. White received an offer to join the second iteration of the XFL, Cimini notes, adding that the rebooting league was proposing “significantly more” than the base NFL practice squad pay ($136K for a season at the time). But he joined the Jets as a depth option during Sam Darnold‘s bout with mononucleosis in September 2019. Then-backup Trevor Siemian broke his ankle during his first (and only) start as a Jet, leading to the team using Luke Falk as its next option.

At the time, it was pretty tough,” White said, via Cimini, of his NFL-or-XFL decision. “I knew I was an NFL quarterback — I wasn’t an XFL quarterback — but [the XFL] was an opportunity to play and I knew I needed film. The only film I had was preseason from Dallas, and it wasn’t the greatest film, to be honest.

White did not play in 2019 or 2020 but broke through in 2021, when he became the first Jets passer since Vinny Testaverde in 2000 to top 400 yards in a game. White then went down with an injury in his next start and threw four interceptions against the Bills upon returning. Despite Wilson’s move to second string, White does not appear in jeopardy of losing his job. If the Jets fall out of playoff contention, however, that would probably change. White is a free agent at season’s end; so is Flacco. Two years remain on Wilson’s rookie contract.