Why the NY Jets can't find a trade partner for Zach Wilson (besides the obvious reason)

Zach Wilson is bad, but that's not the only reason

Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Zach Wilson has played his final game for the NY Jets. That's a statement that could've been made a year ago at his time, but it's one that is essentially confirmed at this point.

The Jets will part ways with Wilson this offseason. The two sides agreed to go their separate ways this past November, and Wilson's brief return to the starting lineup following his initial benching didn't change anything.

Wilson will not be playing for the Jets in 2024. In a perfect world, the Jets will be able to find a suitable trade partner for the former No. 2 overall pick, giving Wilson a chance to reset his career with a new team while his old organization recoups assets.

That feels unlikely at this stage, however. ESPN's Rich Cimini confirmed on Sunday that Wilson's trade market is essentially non-existent. All signs point to the Jets eventually outright releasing Wilson, costing the team over $11 million in dead cap space.

But why? Why can't the Jets find any takers for Wilson, even as a developmental QB3?

Why can't the NY Jets find any team willing to trade for Zach Wilson?

Wilson is statistically one of the worst quarterbacks in modern NFL history. He's not in the same category as recent Jets quarterback draft busts such as Sam Darnold and Geno Smith. He's more comparable to historic NFL busts like JaMarcus Russell, at least from a statistical standpoint.

But quarterbacks with the raw talent that Wilson possesses typically get second, third, or even fourth chances in the NFL. That's why some have wondered why no team is willing to take a chance on the former BYU star.

The short answer is...they are. They're just not willing to pay him his current contract.

This might seem obvious to some, but there have been plenty of fans questioning why players like Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Desmond Ridder, and Kenny Pickett were able to be traded this offseason while the Jets can't find anyone to take Wilson off their hands.

First and foremost, all of those quarterbacks have been better than Wilson, at least at various points in their short careers. Each of those quarterbacks will be given a chance to be a primary QB2 in 2024. Wilson will not receive that opportunity.

But it goes beyond just on-field performance. All of those quarterbacks also have much smaller cap hits than Wilson does next season.

Any team trading for Wilson would be forced to pay him $5.5 million in guaranteed money. That's a higher cap hit than established backups such as Drew Lock, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Case Keenum, Jets backup Tyrod Taylor, and all of the quarterbacks listed above.

In fact, Wilson's $5.5 million cap hit in 2024 would make him one of the more expensive backups in the NFL. No team is going to be willing to pay that money for a player who will, at best, hope to stick around as a developmental QB3.

There's also the fact that every team is well aware that the Jets don't plan to roster Wilson next season. If Wilson isn't traded, the NFL knows that the Jets will simply opt to cut him.

Why trade assets away for a quarterback you can sign for a much cheaper contract after he's released?

Player value in the NFL isn't solely determined by performance, contrary to popular belief. There is a whole host of factors that determine a player's value, including contract, age, team fit, etc. Wilson's on-field struggles are just a part of the equation.

Some of this might seem obvious, but there is still a portion of fans who just don't understand the situation. Zach Wilson has no trade value. Yes, he's very bad, but that's only part of it.

The Jets will likely be forced to release Wilson in the coming weeks, while their former top draft pick will hope to salvage some sort of NFL career as a hopeful third-string for whichever team signs him next.