The New York Jets have many unanswered questions heading into the 2023 offseason: questions about their offensive coordinator, their ability to sign free agents, offensive line, receivers, safeties, linebackers, defensive tackles, and potentially edge rushers.
However, the domino that will make the others fall is the biggest one any NFL team can answer, albeit not the first: who will the starting quarterback be?
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While the Jets may be watching the NFL playoffs like the rest of us, there are plenty of Jets-related odds flying around the legal sports betting atmosphere. And, thankfully so, since it’s believed that the team is just one (important) position away from true Super Bowl contention.
Some would argue that the 2022 NFL season demonstrated a decreased value at the QB position. After all, the top 10 list of quarterbacks by DVOA included the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff, and Jacoby Brissett, none of whom are known to be elite throwers of the football. The success of these players would seem to indicate that system and surrounding talent are more important than having a high-end passer.
However, I would argue just the opposite: three of the four quarterbacks who will compete on Championship Sunday are MVP finalists, demonstrating just how vital the QB position is. (The fourth signal-caller, Brock Purdy, may yet prove the opposite, but few can replicate the system that Kyle Shanahan has put in place.)
Patrick Mahomes’s injury may have thrown a wrench in the Chiefs’ championship hopes even with one of the greatest play-callers of all time in Andy Reid. Joe Burrow’s mastery last postseason despite inadequate offensive line play has many buying the Bengals, even down three starters up front. Jalen Hurts’s throwing shoulder is the talk of the town. These quarterbacks are everything to their teams; just ask Gardner Minshew.
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Meanwhile, the Jets are coming off a season in which they went 7-10 due to below-replacement-level quarterbacking. It was fairly obvious from watching them play week in and week out that even a quarterback who was slightly below league average could have taken them to the playoffs. Although there is no way to assume other factors remain equal, especially the health and strength of the defense, the biggest hole on this Jets team, and the main reason for their league-leading 12-season playoff drought, can be heaped on the shoulders of the QBs.
Therefore, the Jets should do everything in their power to acquire the right signal-caller. Right?
Not so fast.
As important as a quarterback is, some of the best, such as Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, and Aaron Rodgers, can attest to the fact that the offensive line and surrounding cast matter an awful lot, even for a dominant passer. Allen’s early exit from the playoffs should have Buffalo’s general manager searching heaven and earth to fix his offensive line and get a true No. 2 receiver (if his No. 1 has calmed down and won’t go full-on Elijah Moore or Antonio Brown). Brady will certainly seek another team with an ideal situation in these areas should he decide to return for another crack at the Lombardi. Rodgers wants no part of a rebuild after he crumbled without his dominant WR. Herbert hopes that he’ll get some top receivers and offensive linemen who can actually play in most of the games.
Cap space matters. Long-term future matters. If you can’t build around the QB, that quarterback is unlikely to take you to the place you want to go. The Jets are already very short on cap space and have a myriad of needs besides under center.
Still, the QB is ultimately the most important. Who’s the betting favorite to be the Jets’ 2023 Week 1 quarterback? On Jan. 26, 2023, PointsBet Sportsbook released a set of new odds.
Here are the Jets Week 1 QB odds:
Aaron Rodgers: +600 ➡️ +175
Derek Carr: +300
Jimmy Garoppolo: +450
Mike White: +600
Lamar Jackson: +600
Tom Brady: +750
Zach Wilson: +850 pic.twitter.com/2HQ2rtf9Xb
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) January 26, 2023
1. Aaron Rodgers +175
PointsBet lists the Jets as a favorite to land Aaron Rodgers at +150. The odds jumped from +600 to +175 thanks to the Jets’ hiring of OC Nathaniel Hackett—a man who Rodgers is incredibly familiar with.
Of course, the Jets aren’t the only team in the mix.
The Tennessee Titans are in cap purgatory and would have to eat considerable dead money to shed Ryan Tannehill’s salary. Also, given the general lack of weapons on the team aside from Derrick Henry and Treylon Burks, it’s unlikely Rodgers would want to go there. Even without a no-trade clause, Rodgers has a great deal of leverage for any trade, as his $58.3 million cash payout for 2023 will need to be reworked for a trade to happen; he could simply refuse to negotiate if he did not want to play for the proposed team.
The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, are in a position to pick a QB of the future with the No. 3 overall pick. After going to the veteran QB well three times and pulling a hat trick of strikeouts, it’s highly unlikely they try once more. Their whole roster showed more cracks than in the past, and it’s likely that Indianapolis will kickstart a semi-rebuild with a young, cheap quarterback.
The New England Patriots just brought back Bill O’Brien to be their offensive coordinator, which seemed to be a move directed at getting Mac Jones right. It’s also hard to picture the fiercely independent Rodgers curbing his style, even for the greatest coach in NFL history. Furthermore, the Patriots may have the worst receiving corps in the league (which could get even thinner if Jakobi Meyers leaves), and their offensive line has both holes and free agents.
The Las Vegas Raiders could be a potential location if they unload Derek Carr, but again, trading Carr would be a salary-related move. A trade would reunite Rodgers with his favorite target, Davante Adams, which is likely one of the reasons this is listed.
The Jets are the favorite largely because it has been reported that Woody Johnson would do what it takes to acquire Rodgers. The financial aspects would be difficult and potentially crippling, but if Rodgers would renegotiate his contract and allow the acquiring team some cap relief in 2024-26, perhaps the trade would be workable. Certainly, Rodgers’s 2023 cap hit of $15.8 million seems minuscule on the surface, but it’s more complicated than that.
Additionally, there is the risk that Rodgers’s statistical decline in 2022 was a product of age rather than a lack of protection and weapons and a broken thumb. The associated risk could put both Joe Douglas’s and Robert Saleh’s jobs on the line. Is that a risk they’re willing to take?
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2. Derek Carr +300
PointsBet lists Derek Carr at +300 odds to be the New York Jets starting QB in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.
Carr seems to make the most sense for the Jets both in terms of finances and the cost of acquisition. Although Carr’s contract is not cheap, his $33 million cap hit in 2023 is the basic cost of a decent veteran QB in today’s league.
Furthermore, Carr is just one season removed from throwing for over 4,800 yards and has never played with a defense ranked higher than 20th. His offensive line was porous in pass protection this past season, and several of his targets missed time due to injury. He was also in a system ill-suited to his strengths.
As Michael Nania explained, Carr is the most plausible target for the Jets. The biggest question is if he would want to come to New York. The Jets are arguably the best option, certainly if Carr prioritizes the chance to win. Since he has a no-trade clause that is ultimately up to him; if he chooses to avoid the East Coast, there’s nothing the Jets can do about that.
Additionally, it’s unlikely that trading for Carr would cost steep draft capital. The highest level of return I can imagine is a second-round pick, and it’s possible that a trade would cost less than that. It’s not an unreasonable cost for a quarterback who played at a borderline top-10 level of efficiency in 2021 and has been a top-13 QB for most of his career.
3. Jimmy Garoppolo +450
Once considered the most likely candidate for the Jets, Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer on most prognosticators’ minds following his injury and Mike LaFleur’s departure. Garoppolo made sense mainly as a perfect fit in the San Francisco system, but the Jets have now interviewed many offensive coordinator candidates from outside the system.
If they do end up hiring someone with Kyle Shanahan connections, this is always a possibility, but not one that would make fans overly enthusiastic.
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T4. Mike White +600
Mike White is currently listed at +600, ahead of teammate Zach Wilson. Although the majority of this list is riddled with fresh faces, that does not mean the incumbents should be thrown out of the picture entirely.
A lot can happen over the course of one NFL offseason.
T4. Lamar Jackson +600
I am on the record saying that there is no way the Jets should trade for Lamar Jackson. However, the oddsmakers seem to think it’s a possibility, as they are once again linked to any other start QB. Tied with Mike White is the Baltimore Ravens QB at +600.
Although just the mention of Jackson’s name has many Jets fans drooling, the reality is that acquiring him would make it completely impossible for the Jets to fill the rest of their roster needs. Even if his contract is structured similarly to Russell Wilson’s with a $35 million cap hit in the first year to ease the initial burden, just the trade cost of a minimum of three first-round picks would give the Jets zero ability to bring in cheap players to plug their holes on the offensive line and other spots.
6. Tom Brady +750
Many Jets fans might burn their jerseys if this happened, but Tom Brady is listed in the No. 6 spot at +750.
Brady isn’t coming to the Jets. They won’t want him for his age-46 season, especially when he showed chinks in his armor in 2022. Also, TB12 would have to really want to stick it to his former coach to come to The Hoodie’s most loathed team.
Lovers of chaos can dream, though.
7. Zach Wilson +850
Rounding out the top seven is a face Jets fans frustratingly know well: Zach Wilson.
With +850 odds to be the Jets QB to start the 2023 NFL season, Wilson is expected to remain a Jets employee, but it would be a stunner if he’s starting by the time Week 1 comes our way.
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