Zach Wilson in the huddle before a play against the Green Bay Packers, October 16, 2022, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The New York Jets are a team competing in the National Football League (NFL). Unfortunately, this is not a team that has a reputation for good quarterbacks. Ever since franchise icon Joe Namath won a Super Bowl with the Jets in the 1968-69 season, the Jets have had failed draft picks, free agent busts, and journeyman backups at the quarterback position; this has resulted in over 50 years of quarterback failure, usually keeping the team from that elusive second championship.
However, the 2023-24 season offers a unique situation for an incoming quarterback. The Jets arguably have top-tier players at every position but quarterback. A top-5 defense in the NFL with names including Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Quinnen and Quincy Williams, C.J. Moseley, and Lamarcus Joyner. A solid wide receiver corps including rookie sensation Garrett Wilson, veteran Corey Davis, dynamic playmaker Elijah Moore, and tight end Tyler Conklin. Furthermore, the offensive line, when healthy, has proven to be able to not only protect quarterbacks for the pass, but also open lanes for a running game for Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Zonovan “Bam” Night.
But alas, Zach Wilson, Mike White, Joe Flacco, and Chris Streveler have been, to say the least, unproductive. A combined 56.9% completion rate, 15 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, and a combined 75.0 QBR are not elite by any means. Thus, it pays to take a look outside of this QB room and into the wider NFL…and perhaps beyond.
LAMAR JACKSON: Baltimore Ravens QB (2018-present)
An elite quarterback such as Lamar Jackson needs no introduction. The 2019 MVP can terrorize any opposing defense with his remarkable running and passing ability. He has postseason experience and is still just 25 years old. With all the pieces the Jets have, Jackson would make them immediate Super Bowl contenders. However, with a price tag likely north of 50 million dollars per season and his recent injuries, are the Jets really willing to risk it all? And would Baltimore really let Jackson walk away?
JIMMY GAROPPOLO: San Francisco 49ers QB (2017-present)
On the surface, this is a good match. The Jets run an offense similar to San Francisco that Garoppolo has already mastered, so the transition would be easy. Furthermore, Garoppolo is a seasoned veteran with winning playoff experience that could definitely bring the Jets to the postseason. But with his many injuries and the likelihood that the 49ers may keep him alongside Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, the Jets might have other things to consider.
DEREK CARR: Las Vegas Raiders QB (2014-present)
Derrek Carr is budget Jimmy Garoppolo, as some may say. Once again, Carr is a veteran with a steady presence that could work well given the talent the Jets have. Only, Carr has never done well in the playoffs and is not a consistent winner. This could be a potentially high-risk, low-reward situation. Not for me.
TOM BRADY: New England Patriots QB (2001-2019) Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB (2020-present)
Picture this: Tom Brady walks out of the tunnel of Metlife Stadium to warm up…in a Jets uniform. On paper, this could work. He’s the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time and brings a culture of winning wherever he goes. But in reality, this could be a potential disaster. His age of 45 is a concern, making this only a short-term solution, and I am not very sure a lot of people would want to see Tom Brady in a Jets uniform, including perhaps Tom Brady himself.
With the 13th pick in the draft, it would be unlikely a highly-rated college quarterback would fall this far. If you do consider drafting a quarterback in the first round, would you really be admitting defeat with Wilson and burning another first-round pick on a quarterback? This is the most unlikely option.
With all of this in mind, this is what I want the Jets to do: get Jackson if he is made available, and if not, sign Garoppolo. Keep Wilson and White on the roster for insurance, and see if Wilson can learn from Garoppolo. Please, Woody Johnson. Please, Joe Douglas. Give us Jets fans the winning team we deserve.