Zach Wilson’s messy Jets career to end with reported trade to Broncos

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Zach Wilson;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Zach Wilson</a> threw for 6,239 yards, 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions during his <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jets;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jets</a> career. </span><span>Photograph: John Minchillo/AP</span>

The New York Jets are reportedly trading former first-round pick Zach Wilson to the Denver Broncos, ending a career with the team that ranged from satisfactory to disastrous.

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Wilson will compete with Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci to begin next season as the Broncos’ starter, although Denver may select a quarterback in this week’s draft. ESPN reports that the Broncos sent a sixth-round pick to the Jets in return for Wilson and a seventh-round pick. New York and Denver will split Wilson’s $5.5m salary in 2024 equally, according to ESPN.

Denver had been rumored to be targeting a trade up for quarterback in the upcoming draft. Coach Sean Payton called it a “realistic” option in March, though the team has less capital to make a leap up in the first round compared to other quarterback needy teams.

“Look, I mean, do we have to draft a quarterback?'’ Payton said last week. “You’d say man, it sure looks like we have to draft a quarterback and yet, it’s got to be the right fit, the right one. And if you had the tip sheets as to who everyone else was taking, it would be easier to answer that question ... That’s the puzzle here.’

The Jets picked Wilson with the No 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft as the team hoped to avoid selecting yet another bust at quarterback. But there were some who believed Wilson’s gaudy college numbers at BYU were disproportionately boosted by a strong supporting cast and a weak schedule of opponents. Those doubts appeared to be proved true as Wilson struggled badly in his first season, although he occasionally flashed glimpses of his talent and was not helped by a weak team surrounding him. The Jets started the 2022 season strongly, but Wilson had little to do with their success, was unpopular with some of his teammates and was benched towards the end of the campaign.

When the team traded for Aaron Rodgers before the start of last season, Wilson appeared to be set for a spell as a back-up, where he could possibly learn from one of the game’s all-time greats. But Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury in his Jets debut and Wilson was called back into action as the Jets starter. 2023 was statistically the best of Wilson’s Jets career – and the only one in which he threw more touchdowns than interceptions – but he still failed to play like a first-round quarterback and, with Rodgers returning from injury, the Jets have decided to move on.

In 33 starts over three season, the 24-year-old threw for 6,239 yards, 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. His QBR of 30.6 in 2023 was the worst among qualified starters in the NFL.

With Wilson traded to Denver, only one quarterback of the five selected in the first round of the 2021 draft – Trevor Lawrence – remains with the team they were originally drafted by.