Things have come to a head between Zach Wilson and the New York Jets. After another horrendous performance against the New England Patriots followed by postgame comments that infuriated his teammates and coaches, Wilson has officially been benched for the team's next contest against the Chicago Bears.
Wilson will now be replaced by either Mike White or Joe Flacco, the other two QBs on the roster, and it seems like the point of no return. The former No. 2 overall pick might be more talented than the alternatives but a QB can't lead the offense if he loses the locker room.
The Jets don't have much in the way of alternatives for now because the trade deadline is long gone. They'll try to make the playoffs and give the White/Flacco duo a shot at game-managing their way to wins. But the situation under center is far from settled. Robert Saleh has built a great defense and an offense filled with good weapons and linemen. This is a team close to playoff contention if they can settle the QB problem.
Let's look forward to 2023 and break down the top potential options for the Jets at quarterback.
Some wondered if the Jets wouldn't trade for Garoppolo during the last offseason, given Wilson was a big question even then and Jimmy G appeared to be on the outs with the Niners. Wilson is obviously still a problem but Garoppolo was given his starting job back after Trey Lance got hurt and he's been playing pretty well. Should he continue to do so, he'll hit free agency next year as the best QB on the market. Saleh knows him well from his days in San Francisco. He is competent enough to win a lot of football games with a quality support structure around him. The Jets right now would be really good if they had Garoppolo instead of Wilson. Jimmy G seems destined for the bright lights of NYC barring something crazy happening between now and March.
I am a proud member of the Mike White hive. Not because I think he's that good but because it's always fun to root for the backup, and no other backup in the league put up 400 yards and nearly a half-dozen TDs against the eventual conference champions in 2021. White has been the No. 2 guy for the last few weeks and will get first crack at the starting gig with Wilson riding the pine. If he can avoid turnovers and hit the easy passes Wilson could not or refused to make, he'll have a head start on any potential replacement next year because it is always easier and cheaper to go with the in-house option.
Initially this was going to be a joke entry. And then... you start thinking about it. This Jets defense has catapulted itself into the stratosphere this year and should only get better with all key pieces on the younger side of 30 heading into next season. Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall are excellent building blocks offensively and when healthy New York's offensive line is solid at worst. Brady, meanwhile, will be a free agent next offseason and the noise is getting louder that he'd consider leaving the Bucs for a better situation instead of retiring. He has family in New York City. It's a big market. He'd get to duel Bill Belichick twice a year. Not at all likely, but not nearly as unlikely as you might think.
The positive of the Raiders' no-good, terrible season is that they might end up with a high enough draft pick to grab a QB. Derek Carr is not the most expensive guy on the roster but he is movable. It makes sense to grab one of the better prospects in this year's draft and move off his big contract rather than continue to pay nearly $150 million for a team that will not even sniff the playoffs. Carr has a no-trade clause but in this universe getting sent to the Jets is an upgrade to playoff and even championship contention. If the Raiders have a replacement QB in the wings a Carr trade makes a lot of sense and the Jets would be a great landing spot.