5 Free Agent Quarterbacks Jets could consider to back-up Zach Wilson

Who should Jets sign as backup to Zach Wilson
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz throws to a receiver in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The loss of Aaron Rodgers, while devastating, is not the end of the New York Jets season. Now, the team must circle the wagons and rally around former second-overall pick Zach Wilson. 

It appears the team is ready to do so with a road contest in Dallas on the horizon. 

“When Zach Wilson was the starting quarterback one year ago before the Bye Week he was 5-1 as a starter, with Breece Hall and AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) and everybody healthy,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday. “We have all the faith in the world in Zach and the best part about Zach is that we all do believe he is leap years ahead of where he was a year ago. So, again, like I said, we are excited for his opp(ortunity).”

Jets turn to Zach Wilson
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) passes against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York is right to have faith in Zach Wilson as the team’s starting quarterback for the rest of the year, but they will need to add another quarterback to both improve the room and provide depth should something happen to Wilson. 

Luckily for Gang Green, there are plenty of options. We go over the top five available here:

Free Agent Options

Carson Wentz

Wentz has, by far, the most upside over anyone else on this list. The problem? We’ve been saying that for five years and nothing has come of it. No one has denied the talent that Wentz possesses but the quarterback couldn’t recover from a multitude of injuries and the underlying factor of losing the love of a city to a backup quarterback. 

It appears Wentz is open to a backup quarterback role which could help his chances here, but it would certainly add more intrigue to the mix if the Jets were to sign him. One bad game from Wilson would have the crowd chanting for a change.

Nick Foles

Foles is in the twilight of one of the craziest careers in NFL history. Anywhere he goes outside of Philadelphia he looks completely outmatched. In the confines of the City of Brotherly Love, he becomes the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

Jokes aside, Foles is contemplating retirement, but could be a solid backup to Wilson. He’s not as mobile, but has a good enough arm and touch to run the West Coast offense to a tee. This is probably an option the Jets may not consider but should be considering general manager Joe Douglas’ ties to Philly as well. 

Colt McCoy

If the Jets are looking for a true backup, you can’t get any better than Colt McCoy. McCoy is a serviceable backup quarterback who can run multiple offenses. He’s the perfect veteran in a room with Aaron Rodgers. McCoy was a surprising cut by the Cardinals in August. Arizona is clearly tanking but the Jets could offer him a chance to be on a contending team, and even some playing time if Wilson falters. 

Joe Flacco

Flacco has familiarity with Wilson and Saleh, while also consistently being a dependable leader in the locker room. The former Super Bowl MVP’s best days are behind him, but to be the immediate backup on a loaded team, you could do a lot worse than the former Raven.

Matt Barkley

As backups go, you could do a lot worse than Matt Barkley. The former Bill was a dependable second fiddle to Josh Allen and even played sparingly at times over the years. He doesn’t have a lot of in-game experience, but he’s a free-agent option that the Jets should absolutely consider. 

Tradeable Options

Case Keenum

Trey Lance

Andy Dalton

There aren’t going to be a lot of teams that want to rid themselves of their immediate backup quarterbacks. That’s the nature of the game for contending rosters or teams that have young quarterbacks. Despite this notion, there are a few names that could be moved over the next few weeks for the right price, and the Jets could absolutely consider taking a flier on. 

Keenum has plenty of starting experience but Houston may not want to part with him. The same goes for Andy Dalton in Carolina. Trey Lance, though, is an intriguing option. He’s going to waste away as Dallas’ third-string quarterback and has desperately needed reps. Lance, like Wilson, could be the project the Jets try to work on while Rodgers is out for the year while having some serviceable players behind the starter to keep the team competitive. The Cowboys may not jump, but it’s worth a shot. 

Retired/Out to Pasture

Matt Ryan

Phillip Rivers

Chad Henne

Before crazy people start jumping on here, let me be very clear: There’s no way in hell Tom Brady will return to the NFL as a member of the New York Jets. Can’t happen, won’t happen. 

Now, with that out of the way, some retired players could be interesting targets should the Jets want to go down the route. The caveat to all but one of the names is that most of them are starters and won’t come back to simply be a backup to a mediocre quarterback in the slightest. 

Ryan and Rivers are two quarterbacks who have teased potentially returning to the game. Rivers was rumored to be ready to sign with the 49ers if they won the NFC Title Game last year (they did not) and Ryan hasn’t formally retired. Then there is Chad Henne. Henne is a career backup who retired after a Super Bowl win with the Chiefs last year. If the Jets can poach him, you have one of the most dependable backups in football at your disposal. He’s a solid option to consider to back up Wilson. 

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