The new era of NY Jets football has officially arrived. After a failed experiment with former third overall pick Sam Darnold ended with the quarterback being traded to the Carolina Panthers, the Jets invested their 2021 second overall selection in BYU star Zach Wilson.
The 21-year-old QB will have the monumental task of correcting the course of a franchise that has failed to make the postseason since 2010. While the task will be challenging, New York now has the hope they have found their franchise quarterback.
At first glance, it would appear as though the Jets quarterback room quandaries have been solved. If things go as they anticipate, the team will have a young star with immense upside.
However, there is still important work to be done with the depth chart.
The current NY Jets' backup quarterbacks
As things currently stand, Wilson will be backed up by two completely unproven options. 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan is slated to be the team's second-string QB.
He has yet to throw a pass at the NFL level. The team also has former 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White on their depth chart. He too has zero career NFL pass attempts.
As things currently stand, New York will be under heightened pressure to rush their newly acquired star into a starting role. The franchise also offers very little in the way of veteran leadership and mentorship for Wilson.
The Jets must correct this lack of depth before training camp begins.
The task of finding a backup signal-caller would have been much easier a few months ago. The March free agency period saw a plethora of quarterbacks, young and old, available to the highest bidder.
Unfortunately, the landscape has changed drastically at this point in the calendar. While the options may be thin, several intriguing options could prove to be solid assets for a rebuilding Jets team.
Nick Mullens is the most interesting option remaining in free agency. At just 26-years-old, the former San Francisco backup could be a great fit in New York.
The undrafted free agent performed admirably in limited action with the 49ers over the past three years. He has started 16 games to the tune of 4,714 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and a 5-11 record.
The former Southern Miss star could help ease Wilson’s transition into the NFL by serving as a viable starting option, giving Wilson time to learn the playbook and become acclimated to the speed of the NFL game.
While there are flaws in his game, Mullens provides the best depth option without sacrificing assets in a trade. Wilson would still be the favorite to start, but the 49ers connection is intriguing with Mullens.
Brian Hoyer’s experience and potential mentor abilities stand out on the list of current free agents. The 12-year veteran has 70 games, 39 starts, 10,404 yards, and 52 touchdowns on his resume.
He has also played alongside talents such as Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Jacoby Brissett, and Jason Campbell.
The 35-year-old journeyman could potentially serve as a veteran mentor to Wilson while the rookie develops. Picture a similar strategy to the one the Miami Dolphins used last season with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa.
Hoyer already met with the Jets before the draft making this one more likely than the others.
Robert Griffin III
This final spot shows just how thin the remaining free agency pool is. A player like Griffin doesn't seem to have the skill set to thrive as a backup to Wilson. However, the other options include players like Nathan Peterman, Matt Barkley, and Brett Hundley.
Count me in for what feels like the lesser of the evils.
Griffin has performed well enough as a backup to MVP Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. While he seems lightyears away from his prime, Griffin is a former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Heisman Trophy winner, and Pro Bowler.
While it is unlikely he could start for New York, the former star could be a solid mentor as Wilson takes over as the Week 1 starter.