Jets trade Zach Wilson to Broncos three years after drafting QB second overall

Zach Wilson’ s time with the Jets has officially come to an end.

According to sources, Wilson and a 2024 seventh-round pick (256th overall) will head to the Broncos in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick (207th overall). The Jets and the Broncos will divide his remaining roster bonus of $5.5 million.

After owner Woody Johnson voiced his displeasure on the NFL Honors red carpet in February about not having a backup quarterback following Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles tear four plays into his Jets debut last September, the team gave Wilson permission to seek a trade. However, it took two months to part with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of BYU.

Wilson played 12 games for the Jets last season and threw for 2,271 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. During his three years with the Jets, Wilson passed for 6,293 yards, 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 73.2. The Jets were 12-21 in the 33 games Wilson started.

After those three less-than-stellar seasons with the Jets, Wilson didn’t have much trade value. His time with the Jets was nothing short of tumultuous.

Wilson was benched multiple times in 2022 for his poor play, which led to the Jets acquiring Rodgers last spring. The Jets had hoped Wilson would take a step back and watch Rodgers for a year or two, but they were not afforded that luxury following the four-time NFL MVP’s injury.

After signing Tyrod Taylor to a two-year contract in March, teams knew that the Jets and Wilson needed to move on. Now, days before the 2024 NFL Draft, Wilson will return closer to his childhood home in Utah to play for the Broncos.

Wilson will join a Broncos team that needs quarterback help. The only other quarterbacks on Denver’s roster are Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci. The Broncos are also expected to select a quarterback at some point during this week’s draft.

Wilson will likely be an unrestricted free agent following the 2024 season because the Broncos aren’t expected to exercise his fifth-year option for $22.4 million. Denver has until May 2 to accept or decline Wilson’s option. He is due to make $5.45 million in 2024, which is fully guaranteed.

Now that his time with the Jets has ended, Wilson has to be considered one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history. When he was drafted in 2021, he was expected to solidify the quarterback position under general manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh. Instead, Wilson will be remembered for his inept play and immaturity issues.

Following an up-and-down rookie season in 2021, Wilson was expected to take a step forward during his sophomore campaign. However, a preseason knee injury against the Eagles caused Wilson to miss the first four games of the 2022 season.

Wilson was first benched for then-Jets quarterback Mike White after failing to accept accountability after a 10-3 loss to the Patriots in November of 2022. That led to some of his Jets teammates wearing T-shirts in support of White after he became the starter. Wilson would later regain the starting quarterback job before losing it again during the final two games of that season.

In nine starts in 2022, Wilson finished with 1,688 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Following Rodgers’ season-ending injury in 2023, Wilson, Tim Boyle, and Trevor Siemian were the remaining quarterbacks on the Jets roster. That decision came back to haunt the Jets after Wilson continued to struggle and was benched for Boyle during the team’s 32-6 loss to the Bills last November.

After Boyle was released following two poor starts against the Dolphins and Falcons, Wilson became the starter one last time and threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-6 victory against the Texans on Dec. 10.

But Wilson suffered a concussion the following week during a 30-0 loss to the Dolphins and missed the final three games of the season after the Jets were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Siemian started the Jets’ final three games after Wilson was placed in concussion protocol. Wilson’s mother, Lisa, said the 24-year-old had problems with blurred vision and depth perception.

The Jets began their voluntary offseason workout program on Monday, but Wilson was not in attendance for Phase 1.

The 2021 draft class was supposed to be one of the best quarterback classes in recent memory. Instead, it becomes a cautionary tale for many teams this draft season.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the only first-round quarterback still on the team that drafted him. The 49ers traded Trey Lance to the Cowboys last season. The Patriots traded Mac Jones to the Jaguars last month, while the Bears traded Justin Fields to the Steelers.