Jets “won’t close the door” on Zach Wilson following Aaron Rodgers acquisition

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson watches from the sidelines after he lost the starting quarterback job.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson watches from the sidelines after he lost the starting quarterback job.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

FLORHAM PARK — A lot of things had to happen for the New York Jets to acquire one of the greatest quarterbacks of All-Time.

The team had to have one of the best drafts in recent memory while developing other young players, and their starting quarterback had to struggle enough that the team could not afford to be patient with him as the team got better. 

Both things ended up happening though and now Aaron Rodgers is a member of the Jets which begs the question of what will happen to former second overall pick Zach Wilson. 

Through two NFL seasons, Wilson has struggled to maintain any level of consistency. He’s been in the cellar of league quarterbacks in completion percentage and yards. He’s been benched multiple times and has had to apologize to the locker room for comments made after certain games. Yet through all the trials and tribulations, the former BYU standout doesn’t appear to be running away from the challenge of backing up an All-Time great. Instead, he and the team see it as an opportunity for him to get the off-the-field experience he lacked coming in and starting on Day One. 

“He’s such a great young man. He’s excited to work with this opportunity with Aaron. He’s already super excited with how he’s hearing things. Getting Aaron here, I know he’s going to be picking his brain in a positive way,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh explained Wednesday afternoon. “We’re not closing the door on him.”

Saleh’s comments at Rodgers’ introductory press conference were consistent with how the team felt they didn’t set their former top overall quarterback up for success. As early as the start of the 2023 offseason, the Jets have maintained that they felt they should have brought in a veteran to help nurture the youthful but inexperienced mind of Wilson before throwing him on the field. 

Acquiring Rodgers though could be the best thing for everyone involved. 

When asked earlier in the offseason what his reaction would be to New York acquiring a veteran quarterback to start over him, Wilson responded by saying “I’m going make that dude’s life hell in practice every day.”

For Rodgers, he seems more than happy to accept that challenge in practice. 

“He’s going to make my life hell in practice, and I’m going to make his life heaven off the field,” the former Packer great said with a smile.  

It’s clear that Wilson has given New York no reason to move on from him from a professional standpoint. Gang Green invested a major asset in him and is ready to allow him to sit and learn behind one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in league history. Other quarterbacks like Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Jimmy Garoppolo, and even Rodgers himself had excellent careers after sitting behind Hall-of-Fame signal-callers. 

The Jets’ front office knows and is banking on a similar style of tutelage to help out their former starting quarterback. 

“This was going to be a great thing for Zach. Zach’s ceiling is unlimited. No one works harder, no one loves ball more than Zach Wilson. Having to shadow and be with a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback every day, that’s a great opportunity and a great experience,” general manager Joe Douglas explained. 

New York is an excellent position heading into 2023. They have one of the best quarterbacks on their roster for at least the next two seasons, while also having his successor in tow behind him. Very few teams have both quarterbacks on a roster like the Jets have right now. 

It’ll be up to Wilson though throughout the next few years to show that the faith the team’s front office has given him is not misguided. 

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