Three potential Jets replacements if Zach Wilson misses extended time

Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a bone bruise and a meniscus tear during Friday night’s preseason win over the Eagles. He is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks with the injury, which puts his status in jeopardy for the season opener.

Wilson missed four games in 2021 with a PCL injury in his right knee. (Atlanta Falcons)

Hopefully, this will truly be a short-term injury and we will all get a chance to see how much Wilson has developed from his rookie season to now. However, the Jets expected Mekhi Becton to only miss 6 to 8 weeks last season and he never played again. The need for a replacement seems less dire if Wilson is able to return early in the regular season, but it is possible the Jets would be in the market for a new quarterback. The other quarterbacks on the roster at the moment are Joe Flacco, Mike White and Chris Streveler.

It is important to note that head coach Robert Saleh is a fan of Flacco’s. He heaped praise on the former Super Bowl MVP not even two weeks ago, calling him a starting-caliber quarterback. It would not be a shock to see New York ride it out with Flacco while looking to add a third quarterback to the room for depth, but the Jets really hoped to take a step forward in Saleh’s second season. Keep in mind that Flacco is 0-5 as a starter for the Jets.

It is tricky to know which direction the Jets would head here. They are not really ready to contend, but I also believe this coaching staff and front office believes in doing everything possible to win. Let’s say general manager Joe Douglas decides that he wants to get aggressive and find someone to bridge the gap for Wilson’s return or perhaps find an insurance policy with a bit more upside given that this is now the second time that Wilson has suffered an injury to the same knee. There are not a ton of feasible options, but here are three quarterbacks the Jets could target.

Garoppolo went 31-14 as the 49ers starting quarterback. (Alexander Jonesi)

Jimmy Garoppolo
This might seem obvious, but the 49ers quarterback has ties to the Jets coaching staff. Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur both worked with him for three seasons in San Francisco. While Garoppolo would unquestionably have to build rapport with his new teammates, he should have a good understanding of LaFleur’s offensive system.

The Jets do not have a ton of cap space available, so it is likely Garoppolo would need to restructure his contract if the deal were to be done. San Francisco would likely be looking for a Day 3 draft pick and maybe a future conditional pick to move the 30-year old quarterback. It is clear they have moved on to Trey Lance as the starter and have been openly shopping Garoppolo for months. What’s more, Garoppolo is on an expiring contract, which means the Jets would still be moving forward with Wilson for the long term.

Love was a first-round draft pick in 2020. (All-Pro Reels)

Jordan Love
It is unclear what Love’s future in Green Bay is at this point. Entering Year 3 in the NFL, it seems he is no closer to being the Packers’ starter than he was when they selected him. Aaron Rodgers is the two-time reigning MVP and signed a two-year extension this offseason. I’m not positive the front office in Green Bay will want to move on from him, but if he is available, he could be a cheap option in terms of cap space, to help the Jets stay competitive. New York would likely have to give up a bit more to acquire him than they would Garoppolo given his rookie contract situation and the fact that Love won’t turn 24 until November.

However, it could be a win-win for the Jets and for Love. For Love, he would at long last get a chance to prove he can be a starter in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jets would be able to trade Love again next offseason, possibly for more than they paid if he plays well enough. In the event that Love plays so well that Wilson becomes available, he will still have enough upside and youth on his side to garner serious interest. Keep in mind that Josh Rosen netted a second-round pick for the Cardinals when he was acquired by the Dolphins.

I expect New York to stay loyal to Wilson, but having two starting-caliber quarterbacks under the age of 25 is a good problem to have. If Love does not pan out, the Jets will only be on the hook for the final year of his rookie contract. That cap hit is just under $4 million, which is pretty reasonable for a backup quarterback.

Rudolph has spent his entire career with the Steelers. (Erik Drost)

Mason Rudolph
While I’m not altogether sure this would be much of an upgrade from Flacco or White, it is possible that the Steelers would be willing to move on from the former 3rd-round pick. The 27-year old is in the final year of his contract and Pittsburgh brought in Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett this offseason. Rudolph is part of the quarterback battle for the team’s job this preseason, but feels like the least likely candidate to win it at this point.

That being said, Rudolph has shown he can be at least an average starter in the league. He kept the Steelers afloat in 2019 when Roethlisberger missed eight games. Pittsburgh went 5-3 in that span. He earned spot starts in each of the past two seasons as well.

On one hand, it likely would not cost much for the Jets to acquire him and his cap hit would be very manageable. On the other, I don’t see him being a major upgrade over the quarterbacks that New York currently has on its roster. As much as Saleh wants to win this year, I don’t see Douglas making moves just for the sake of it. There are just not a ton of replacement options available across the league.

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Is Joe Flacco Overpaid?

I’m back, and Ravens fans aren’t going to like me for this one.

I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t usually like to take down athletes because I know that I could never be doing what they are doing on the field each week, but this one continues to be mind-boggling to me.

Joe Flacco
Flacco signed a three-year, $66.4 million extension during the 2016 offseason.

Joe Flacco continues to get paid among the top-five quarterbacks in the league and I really cannot figure out why. He enters the 2016 season as the highest-paid quarterback on average per season at over $22 million a year, having just signed a contract extension this offseason.

Yes, I know he made that incredible run during the 2012 playoffs to win the Super Bowl. And I know he always makes it to the playoffs, but is that really because of Flacco?

I don’t think Joe Flacco is a bad quarterback. I just don’t think is very good either. He is just kind of average with help from some great running games and defenses.

For starters, Flacco has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a single season. He came very close in his last full season, 2014, where he came up just 14 yards shy of the 4,000 mark. Looking at that season though, there were 11 quarterbacks that did hit the 4,000 yard plateau. Throwing for at least 4,000 yards is common place in the league now and Flacco failing to hit that mark is not a result of him not throwing the ball enough. A better indicator of his struggles is lackluster yard per attempt average. He only finished 13th among quarterbacks that threw at least 400 passes in 2014 and for his career has an average under seven. If he cannot hit these benchmarks, then it is hard to justify paying him more than any other quarterback in the league.

Flacco doesn’t throw many touchdowns either. In fact, only twice in his career has the Delaware product thrown for 25 or more in a single season. He has never hit 30 either, with his career-high sitting at 27. In an age where quarterbacks regularly throw 30-plus touchdowns in a given season, Flacco’s numbers once again come across as average at best.

His lack of scores is not because he is an overly cautious player either. Flacco has thrown double digit interceptions in each of his eight NFL seasons. That includes 22 in the 2013 season and 12 during his injury-shortened 2015 campaign, where he only played 10 games. His completion percentage leaves a lot to be desired as well. Flacco completes roughly 61 percent of his passes, a pretty typical figure for middle of the road quarterbacks in the NFL.

It’s not like Flacco can complain about being constantly under pressure or knocked around either. He had a rough year in 2013, taking 48 sacks, but over the course of his last 26 games (the 2014 and 2015 seasons) Flacco has only been sacked 37 times. For some reference, there were 10 NFL quarterbacks sacked more than that in just 2015 alone.

Flacco is under contract with the Ravens until he is 37 years old. 

Baltimore has always been good about giving its quarterback tons of help too. During his first four seasons in the NFL, Flacco had a top 10 scoring and yardage defense to rely on, often with that group ranking in the top three. He also can’t carry the team on his own. 2013 was Flacco’s worst statistical season and it was the only one where he played the whole year and did not have a ground game that ranked in the top half of the league.

On top of all of this is the fact that Flacco is coming off a torn ACL and MCL. That is a major knee injury at the age of 31 for a team to decide to invest in him long term. The Ravens have him locked up until 2022 despite the injury concerns.

Breaking Flacco down even further, over the course of his career, he has thrown for about 232 yards per game, while averaging about 1.4 touchdowns and 0.86 interceptions per game. Those numbers are very comparable to Ryan Tannehill, whom many view as the definition of an average quarterback. NFL franchises seem more than willing nowadays to pay top dollar for average quarterback play.

Joe Flacco has had a ton of success, including a Super Bowl ring. No one can take that away from him. However, he does not deserve to be one of the top paid players in the world of professional sports. If you ask me, he is just an average Joe.