Top 2023 QB options for NY Jets after Zach Wilson era ends

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By: Michael Nania

Who will be the New York Jets’ QB in 2023?

After getting benched for the second time in a one-month span – this time for a fourth-string CFL quarterback who can barely throw – it is clear that Zach Wilson‘s time as the New York Jets‘ starting quarterback has come to an end.

Wilson’s fate-sealing stinker on Thursday has surely prompted Jets general manager Joe Douglas to ramp up his research on some of the quarterback options that might become available in the 2023 offseason. New York figures to be a major player in the 2023 QB market.

Let’s go through some of the possible quarterback targets the Jets could pursue in 2023. Not all of the names listed below are intended to be likely options; I’m just going to rattle off any interesting names that could conceivably become available, no matter how unlikely it might be.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Prior to this season, Rodgers signed a three-year, $150.8 million contract extension with $101.5 million guaranteed. His contract runs through 2026.

With the Packers enduring their worst season in a long time and Rodgers surrounded by a lackluster supporting cast, there have been whispers that Rodgers will emerge in trade discussions once again this offseason. Green Bay also has a young first-round quarterback behind Rodgers in Jordan Love. With Love waiting in the wings and a dearth of cap space, the Packers could kickstart a rebuild by dealing Rodgers and turning to Love.

It’s all just speculation, though. We’ll have to wait and see if this actually transpires. Rodgers has been the subject of trade rumors many times before, and he’s always ended up back in Wisconsin.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension, which includes $65.3 million guaranteed. His deal now runs through the 2025 season.

Similar to Rodgers, rumors have sprung up about Carr considering his team’s underwhelming season. The Raiders have fallen well short of expectations and may be looking at hiring a new head coach. Naturally, when these things happen, people will look to the quarterback position, wondering if something will change there as well.

Carr’s deal includes a no-trade clause, so he would have to approve any new destination Las Vegas wishes to trade him to.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Contract negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens stalled prior to the 2022 season, so he remains an impending free agent. It seems unlikely Baltimore will let its franchise player leave, but until pen is put to paper, anything can happen.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s hilarious to even think about the idea of Tom Brady being a Jet, but the 45-year-old is an impending free agent and has not given any inclination he wants to retire. A return to Tampa Bay is feeling increasingly unlikely as the infrastructure around Brady deteriorates, so he could be headed to his third NFL team next year.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Garoppolo is set to become a free agent after returning to the 49ers on a one-year deal. He was having a productive 2022 season until a foot injury ended his season after 10 games.

Garoppolo would be an easy scheme fit for the Jets considering his long-standing familiarity with Mike LaFleur and the Shanahan system. However, he has clear limitations as a quarterback. He would be a high-floor, low-ceiling option for the Jets. Additionally, Garoppolo is one of the most injury-prone quarterbacks in the league and is difficult to rely on.

Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

I highly doubt the Seahawks will let the Pro Bowler walk, but if he does get a chance to test the market, it’s fun to think about the idea of a reunion in New York. Smith has developed into a legitimate high-quality starter. He’s got some of the most efficient passing numbers in the league and backs up the stats with similarly impressive tape. Smith’s film is littered with big-time throws.

The Jets would be a legitimate playoff threat right now if they had Geno Smith for the entire 2022 season. How weird is that to say?

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

Goff is having a great bounce-back season for the Lions, serving as the captain of an elite offense. He has been one of the league’s most efficient passers this year.

Detroit might elect to stick with Goff thanks to his efforts, but the Lions, armed with a plethora of assets, could also elect to move on from Goff and aim higher at the QB position. The Lions could release Goff this offseason for $20.6 million in savings with $10 million in dead money, or they could seek a trade partner.

Jacoby Brissett, Cleveland Browns

Brissett got to start the Browns’ first 11 games prior to Deshaun Watson’s return, and he played respectably well. He looked like a perfectly league-average starting quarterback (top 14-16 range). Brissett is an unrestricted free agent.

Gardner Minshew, Philadelphia Eagles

Minshew has been a backup for Philadelphia since 2021 and has done a nice job when called upon. Prior to that, Minshew started for two years in Jacksonville and posted some decent numbers despite his team’s lackluster record. Minshew is an unrestricted free agent.

Teddy Bridgewater, Miami Dolphins

Another backup/low-tier starter in free agency is Teddy Bridgewater, the former Jet. Bridgewater has been a middling starter for most of his career. You can do a lot better but you can also do significantly worse.

Mike White, New York Jets

The greatest wild card in all of this is Mike White, who will be an unrestricted free agent.

White looked very intriguing in his first three starts of the 2022 season. He showcased substantial improvement compared to the rest of his career and displayed strong command of the Jets’ offense. White got the ball out quickly, kept sacks to a minimum, avoided turnover-worthy plays, and did a great job of going through his progressions.

To boot, White flashed admirable toughness and is clearly a beloved figure in the Jets’ locker room.

Most tantalizing of all, White demonstrated a newfound ability to launch big-time throws at a high frequency, which elevated his ceiling to a level that is well beyond that of merely a respectable game manager. We already knew White could do the easy stuff fairly well, but now that White has added a shockingly large collection of highlight throws to his resume, there is a chance White might have much more potential than we initially thought.

White’s ceiling will always be limited by his significant lack of athleticism. This is not a guy who will ever flirt with the MVP conversation. But his three-game run earlier this season convinced me there might be a chance he could become a Kirk Cousins type of quarterback – someone who can be a borderline top-10 quarterback without amazing physical talent.

However, the limited sample size of White’s 2022 season will make it tough for the Jets to bank on him. Right now, it’s only three games. There is a chance that White will get two more starts to close this season, and if he does, he must continue playing well to further prove the legitimacy of his progress.

But even if White comes back next week and finishes the year with two more impressive games, it’s still only a five-game sample. Can the Jets hitch their wagon to White based on a body of work that makes up less than one-third of a season? Probably not. If White returns, the Jets would likely have to add another starter-quality option for insurance.

Next Article: Can this NY Jets season truly be labeled a disappointment? 

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