Robert Saleh ‘Vocal’ About Bringing Back Jets Veteran Mentor

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh at training camp on July 30, 2021.

Rewind back to this summer — many New York Jets fans wanted to bring in a veteran quarterback to mentor number two overall pick, Zach Wilson.

Nick Foles was the dream candidate for most but Robert Saleh and this coaching staff insisted that the franchise was in good shape with Mike White and James Morgan behind the rookie. In the end, both sides were right to some extent.

Wilson definitely could have used a veteran hand to help navigate early-season struggles — Josh Johnson wasn’t present on the sidelines — and White was a more adept backup than people thought. In 2022, it appears Saleh is changing his stance on the matter.

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Saleh Backs Flacco

During the season-ending press conference from Joe Douglas and Saleh, the Jets HC had a rave review for the sage of the 2021 quarterback room: Joe Flacco.

The 14-year NFL professional is heading into his age-37 campaign. From hearing him talk throughout the season, Flacco has no plans on retiring and it sounds like New York is open to a return as well.

“I think our quarterback room in the way it’s set up now with Joe Flacco and Mike White — I know that they’re going into contract years and all that stuff — but a set up the way we had this year has been ideal,” Saleh told the media. “Bringing in [Flacco] — I know the outside world doesn’t see it — but Joe [Douglas] bringing in Flacco for that sixth-round pick, I don’t think anyone realizes how big of a deal that was… Even for me, didn’t expect it to be the impact that I was expecting in terms of the assist in terms of developing [Wilson] and the room in general.”

The Jets HC added: “It’d be perfect if we can get them all back [Flacco and White] but again, these are all discussions that we’ll have here in the future.”

When ESPN’s Rich Cimini followed up reiterating the question of whether Saleh would like Flacco to return, the coach responded: “Oh yea, I’ll be vocal on that one, absolutely.”

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Behind the Scenes of the 2021 Offseason

So, all of this begs the question — why didn’t Douglas re-sign Flacco in the first place last spring? On October 29, NFL insider Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network released a report criticizing Jets leadership and Douglas in particular.

We had referenced this behind-the-scenes account for information regarding Mekhi Becton but Pauline also tackled the backup quarterback situation. He wrote:

One long-time league insider told me, ‘It’s criminal the Jets had no veteran quarterback on the roster through camp and the season to help mentor Zach Wilson.’ The Jets wanted to sign Brian Hoyer during the offseason for just this purpose, but Douglas gave him a lowball offer. Hoyer rejected the offer, signed a nice deal with the Patriots, and is doing wonders mentoring New England’s rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Jones put up 54 points against the Jets last Sunday, beating them for a second time this season.

Seemingly out of necessity, the team traded for veteran Joe Flacco this week. The Jets offered Flacco a contract close to the veteran minimum this offseason after he started four games for them during the 2020 season. After being courted by the San Francisco 49ers, the veteran quarterback signed a nice-sized contract with the Eagles before being dealt back to New York.

After trading for him, Saleh did admit that the Jets attempted to re-sign Flacco in March of 2021, implying that the veteran chose the Philadelphia Eagles over Gang Green. Pauline attributed this to Douglas’ frugality but there were other potential motivating factors.

For starters, Flacco grew up just outside of Philly in Audubon, New Jersey. His children attend school in the area and a signing with the Eagles meant playing at home.

Some also believed that the quarterback situation was up for grabs in Philadelphia last summer, with Jalen Hurts serving as the starter under a new head coach in Nick Sirianni. Now that the pair has officially made the postseason together in year one, that talk has proven incorrect.

Flacco could always look for another opportunity with a franchise that isn’t certain about their quarterback in 2022, but if he would prefer to stay close to home with a front office that wants him around, the Jets may be his best option. Well, so long as Douglas ponies up the cash this time.

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