Jets Owner Woody Johnson Commit to Retaining QB Zach Wilson Amidst Trade Speculations

New York Jets Navigate Uncertain Waters with Quarterback Strategy.

by Nouman Rasool
Jets Owner Woody Johnson Commit to Retaining QB Zach Wilson Amidst Trade Speculations
© Rich Storry/Getty Images

In an evolving narrative surrounding the New York Jets and their former leading quarterback, Zach Wilson, team representatives disclosed on Monday their ongoing efforts to orchestrate a trade. However, a new development emerged as Woody Johnson, the team's owner, opened up about another potential pathway during the NFL's annual league meeting.

Speaking to a select assembly of journalists, Johnson, who had previously voiced criticisms regarding Wilson's performance in 2023, softened his stance, suggesting a nuanced future for the quarterback. "If a trade doesn't materialize, our plan is to retain him," Johnson remarked, signaling a significant pivot.

In a bid to possibly reignite trading interest, he labeled Wilson "a valuable asset," while also conceding that a new environment might serve Wilson's career interests better, given his turbulent tenure with the Jets after stepping in for the injured Aaron Rodgers early in the season.

Reflecting on the past year, Johnson expressed a sense of regret for Wilson, noting, "Last year could have been an invaluable learning period for Zach, shadowing a veteran like Rodgers, yet circumstances thrust him into the fray prematurely." He continued to extol Wilson's inherent talent and potential, affirming his initial decision to draft Wilson second overall and maintaining confidence in his eventual success.

Jets' Quarterback Shuffle

Amid these discussions, the Jets have already begun reshaping their quarterback lineup, welcoming Tyrod Taylor with a $12 million deal over two years, praised by Coach Robert Saleh for his exceptional leadership qualities.

The question of Wilson's role within this revised framework remains open, with Johnson hinting at the possibility of Wilson staying, albeit acknowledging that a fresh start might be in Wilson's best interest. Wilson, on the final year of his rookie contract and slated to earn $5.5 million, finds his future with the Jets in limbo.

The team faces a dilemma: trading Wilson and his hefty contract appears challenging given his performance record, yet releasing him offers no financial relief, leaving the Jets to absorb a significant cap hit. In late February, General Manager Joe Douglas revealed that Wilson had been permitted to explore trade opportunities.

This came after Wilson's benching during the previous season and amid signals of his desire for a change. Johnson's earlier comments in February, which seemed to underscore the team's quarterback woes, have now been recalibrated, with Johnson advocating for a more balanced view of the team's challenges.

As the offseason progresses, with notable trades within Wilson's draft cohort but none involving Wilson himself, the Jets and Douglas remain in a holding pattern, engaging in discussions but without imminent trade prospects.

Douglas emphasized the goal of finding a resolution beneficial for both Wilson and the team, yet stressed that the team's interests would ultimately guide their decision-making process.

Zach Wilson New York Jets