The latest on the New York Jets’ quarterback situation brings us to a frustrating place of bad actors and make-believe information.
Welcome to the land of make believe. You know this place by now, the fictional world that features a random morning showcasing the idea that Russell Wilson has broached the idea of a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. It’s the same make-believe land that sees another report, that very same day, directly refuting the idea.
It is what it is, I suppose. Timeliness and noise first, accuracy second. As our nation’s trust in the media decreases, the land of make believe strengthens. Anything is possible while drama lies just around the bend.
And yes, the big-boy media in our country deserve the heckles—across most industries. But to pretend NFL decision-makers don’t attempt to muddy the waters at times would be more foolish than drinking milk outside on a 105-degree day.
Joe Douglas would never do such a silly thing. At the very least, nobody would ever know he made such a silly, Ron Burgundy-ish mistake.
Since arriving to replace Mike Maccagnan, Douglas has mirrored the James Bond-type of NFL general manager. The Florham Park, NJ leaks have disappeared and nobody’s sure of the New York Jets‘ next move.
This, of course, includes the team’s quarterback future.
Russell Wilson noise should remain only noise
The NFL quarterback landscape remains stagnant. That looked like a thing of the past once the Russell Wilson news dropped Thursday.
The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Duggar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks reported that Wilson’s camp “broached” the Seahawks about potential trade destinations. From “storming out of the room” after his suggestions on how to fix the offense were dismissed to not wanting to be sacked at historic rates, there’s a clear disconnect between the Super Bowl champion quarterback and the organization.
The Jets were named as one of four teams Wilson’s camp reportedly mentioned to the Seahawks. The Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints account for the other three.
First Deshaun Watson, now Russell Wilson? Jets Twitter was abuzz. So was NFL Twitter, as it’s nearly impossible to remember an offseason that featured as many potentially-available big quarterbacks.
Then, Jets fans were forced to lay down with a cold towel on their heads when ESPN’s Adam Schefter contradicted The Athletic’s report.
According to Schefter, Wilson has not demanded a trade. Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, told Schefter that Wilson wants to play in Seattle. But if a trade were to be considered, the teams he would consider are the aforementioned Saints and Raiders as well as the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson has not demanded a trade, his agent Mark Rodgers told ESPN. Wilson has told the Seahawks he wants to play in Seattle but, if a trade were considered, the only teams he would go to are the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders, Bears.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 25, 2021
Somewhere, Jamal Adams can’t believe what’s happening.
From a Jets perspective, adding Wilson to the already-stacked pile of potential quarterback options is a must. From a national perspective, not much changes.
The NFL world already knew about the friction between Wilson and the Seahawks. Whether it reaches a totally-fractured point remains to be seen, but it hasn’t stopped teams from calling the Seahawks about the possibility, per Michael Silver.
The @Seahawks are staying quiet in the wake of Russell Wilson's recent comments… but that isn't stopping teams from calling to see if he's available… @nflnetwork @AndrewSiciliano pic.twitter.com/Xs3Xwp6A2L
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) February 22, 2021
Deshaun Watson puts his foot down
Unfortunately for the team everybody currently loves to hate, that one inch didn’t turn into two.
Watson met with Culley last Friday, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. But he informed Houston’s new head man that he has no intentions of ever suiting up for the team again.
What this news basically does is reinforce the current quarterback stalemate seen league-wide. With Matthew Stafford‘s and Carson Wentz‘s futures settled, there isn’t much happening, and nobody should expect much movement until the NFL draft draws closer.
That is unless Russell Wilson’s true intentions are to get out of Seattle and all of his recent actions can be attributed to trying to leave in a classy way.
Finally, no real Jets quarterback situation conversation can be had without a little Sam Darnold talk.
Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft has the Jets trading down to select tight end Kyle Pitts, which means Douglas opts to keep Darnold on year No. 4 of a four-year rookie contract. The fifth-year option that would cost the team $18.7 million, per OverTheCap and noted by ESPN’s Rich Cimini earlier in the week, will most likely not be picked up.
Darnold: $9.8M (cap in '21). 5th-year option projects as $18.7M, per Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap. (Lower than anticipated b/o reduced cap). So 2 yrs, $28.5M if exercised.
Wilson: 4 yrs, $23.7M (+ option), per OTC projection for No. 2 pick. Also $5M dead charge 4 trading SD https://t.co/Rod1wL1Xrv
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 22, 2021
As much as fans want to line Darnold and Zach Wilson head to head and have them go at it, it’s not an apples-to-apples situation.
What would Douglas do if he keeps Darnold and he throws for 24 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 3,600 yards in 15 games next season? Entering free agency, at least one NFL team will sign the kid to a multi-year deal worthy way more than his four-year production value.
Would Douglas dare lock him up? Remember, it’s the second contract that sinks a general manager’s ship faster than any top-10 draft pick these days, courtesy of the rookie wage scale implemented a decade ago.
Wilson represents an affordable option that allows Douglas more wiggle room to build a better depth chart. As seen in recent years—i.e. Jared Goff, Cam Newton, Nick Foles/Carson Wentz, etc.—even average-to-decent quarterbacks can help a great team to a Super Bowl. And even top-10 quarterbacks can be moved at the drop of a hat.
What about Trey?
Perhaps the guy whose name is missing the most when the Jets’ quarterback situation is discussed is Trey Lance.
Lance, 20, oozes a Carson Wentz feel—a big kid with all the talent from a small school who can deliver great promise in a high-risk, high-reward scenario. And remember, Douglas was with the Philadelphia Eagles when they graciously accepted Wentz in the two-hole behind Goff.
For a general manager who values value, trading down to snag Lance needs to be a worthwhile conversation. Is it likely? No. But it’s a possibility that deserves much more attention than it’s currently garnering.
As time marches on and we all get closer to the draft, the land of make believe will rage on. It can be Wilson, Watson, Darnold, Lance, the other Wilson or even Justin Fields. Hell, throw in Trevor Lawrence for the fun of it. A sudden report claiming he’s unsure about the Jacksonville Jaguars is the only thing missing from our media-consumptive ways on the topic.
ESPN could report that Joe Douglas is interested in bringing the Pope for a pre-draft workout and a scary percentage of the human zombies glued to the screen wouldn’t bat an eye. Hey, if he can sling it like Zach Wilson, why not?
Wilson, Watson, Wilson, Darnold, Lance and Fields—the guessing games continue, exactly what Joe Douglas wants.