The New York Jets are facing a quarterback crisis after Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the Week 1 loss to the Detroit Lions. Rodgers, who joined the Jets in a blockbuster trade from the Green Bay Packers in March, was expected to lead the team to a playoff run in 2023. However, his injury has left the Jets with limited options at the most important position on the field.
Is there hope for Zach Wilson?
The Jets drafted Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, hoping that he would be their franchise quarterback for the future. Wilson showed flashes of potential in his rookie season, throwing for 2,734 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games. However, he also struggled with consistency, accuracy and decision-making, leading to a 3-10 record as a starter.
Wilson was supposed to compete with Rodgers for the starting job in training camp, but he suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason that sidelined him for six weeks. He was cleared to return to practice last week, but he is still not fully recovered and needs more time to get back into game shape.
The Jets have not ruled out Wilson as a possible option to replace Rodgers, but they are also aware of the risks involved. Wilson is still young and inexperienced, and throwing him into the fire without proper preparation could damage his confidence and development. The Jets also have a tough schedule ahead, facing teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams in the next four weeks.
Which QBs can Jets add?
The Jets are not satisfied with their current backup quarterbacks, Mike White and James Morgan, who have never thrown a pass in a regular-season game. White was Rodgers’ backup in Week 1, but he completed only 5 of 13 passes for 37 yards and an interception after taking over in the fourth quarter. Morgan was a fourth-round pick in 2020, but he spent his rookie season on the practice squad and has not shown much improvement since then.
The Jets are reportedly exploring the trade market and the free-agent pool for potential QB options. According to FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer, some of the names that have been linked to the Jets are:
- Jimmy Garoppolo: The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been on the trade block since the team drafted Trey Lance with the third overall pick in 2021. Garoppolo has a history with Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who was his defensive coordinator in San Francisco from 2017 to 2020. Garoppolo is a proven winner when healthy, leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2019. However, he is also injury-prone and expensive, carrying a $27 million cap hit for 2023.
- Nick Foles: The Chicago Bears quarterback is best known for leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl victory in 2018 as a backup to Carson Wentz. Foles has experience playing under Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who was his quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia from 2016 to 2017. Foles is a veteran leader and a clutch performer, but he is also inconsistent and prone to turnovers. He has a $6.7 million cap hit for 2023.
- Cam Newton: The former MVP quarterback is currently a free agent after being released by the New England Patriots before the start of the season. Newton had a disappointing year with the Patriots in 2020, throwing for only 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games. He also contracted COVID-19 and missed some time due to health protocols. Newton is still a dual-threat weapon with his arm and legs, but he has also lost some of his accuracy and mobility due to injuries and age. He would be a low-cost option for the Jets if they are willing to take a chance on him.
What’s next for Rodgers?
Rodgers’ injury is a devastating blow for both him and the Jets. Rodgers was hoping to revive his career with a new team after a tumultuous offseason with the Packers, where he expressed his frustration with the organization and requested a trade. He agreed to restructure his contract to facilitate his move to New York, giving up some of his guaranteed money and allowing the Jets to have more flexibility with their roster.
Rodgers was optimistic about his fit with Saleh and LaFleur, who run a similar offense to what he had in Green Bay under Matt LaFleur, Mike’s brother. He was also excited about working with young receivers like Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims, as well as tight end Tyler Kroft and running back Tevin Coleman.
Rodgers had a solid performance in Week 1 before his injury, completing 18 of 25 passes for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 17 yards on three carries. He was injured in the third quarter, when he was sacked by Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara and landed awkwardly on his left leg. He was carted off the field and taken to the locker room, where he was diagnosed with a torn Achilles tendon.
Rodgers will undergo surgery to repair his injury, but he is expected to miss the rest of the season and possibly part of the next one. He will turn 40 in December, and his future in the NFL is uncertain. He has not commented on his injury or his plans, but he is likely to face a long and difficult recovery process.
The Jets have expressed their support and sympathy for Rodgers, and they have not given up on him as their quarterback. They have not placed him on injured reserve yet, hoping that he might be able to return later in the year if his recovery goes well. They have also not discussed any contract issues with him, focusing on his health and well-being first.
The Jets are hoping that Rodgers can make a full recovery and return to his MVP form, but they are also preparing for life without him. They are looking for a QB who can help them win games in the short term, while also developing Wilson for the long term. They are facing a tough challenge, but they are not ready to give up on their season.