It’s Super Bowl week around the NFL, but for the New York Jets, all of the focus is on the 2023 regular season and who the starting quarterback will be. Back as always are our writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller to discuss and debate all the hot topics in Jets land.
Today’s NYJ mailbag will feature Aaron Rodgers rumors, worst-case scenarios at QB, unrestricted free agent guarantees, and hype from the Senior Bowl. Previous mailbags:
- Week 76: Questions for Joe Douglas, which coaches are getting fired?
- Week 77: Best/worst replacement for Mike LaFleur, crystal ball predictions.
- Week 78: Plan B at QB/OC, top Jets cuts & restructures in 2023.
- Week 79: QB percentages, potential Nathaniel Hackett reunions.
2023 Is QB Speculation for Jets Fans
1. Tom Brady’s unexpected retirement has seemingly caused the Las Vegas Raiders to pursue Rodgers. Does this recent push from Vegas worry you at all or do you still believe the Jets are the favorite if the Green Bay Packers superstar QB ends up getting traded?
You know, it’s funny. When Tom Brady retired for a second time, I did a silent fist pump towards the air and screamed: “Finally!” Now it seems the ghost of Brady is still haunting Jets fans, which is only fitting since he did it for 20 years when he was with the New England Patriots.
On the surface, I didn’t understand the Rodgers to the Raiders talk. Why in the hell would he want to go to a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Sean Payton? Then I did an interview with Packers insider Peter Bukowski and he revealed things I didn’t know.
For instance, Rodgers and Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels have a great relationship and he wanted him to be the head coach when Mike McCarthy was fired — not Matt LaFleur. Obviously, Davante Adams is a selling point as well. We’d be naive not to consider any team with a QB opening a threat to any quarterback the Jets want. I feel like if Rodgers is moved, the Jets are a favorite, but the Raiders are uncomfortably too close to that second position.
It’s very worrisome. If you look at social media right now, Jets fans are desperately grasping at straws trying to figure out ways to discount the Raiders as a landing spot or an organization in general. I dove into pros and cons for each franchise yesterday and Vegas has just as many positives for Rodgers — if not more — than the Jets.
Yes, their defense is bad and the division is tough, but Rodgers has an MVP mentality that fears no one and has admitted that the Vegas location appeals to him in the past. Whether it’s the tax breaks, the golf courses, or his good pal Adams encouraging him to choose the Raiders — this is a problem.
I didn’t even know about the McDaniels part! Hackett was one of the only things the Jets had going for them besides a young core of playmakers on both sides of the ball (thanks Paul!). Las Vegas also has a top-10 pick to send the Packers, if it comes to the organization choosing.
I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this and if the Jets don’t pursue Derek Carr because of Rodgers, this entire Hackett hire and offensive reboot could end up blowing up in our faces.
2. Who would be a realistic worst-case scenario for the Jets at starting quarterback in 2023?
Oh my goodness. That is a great and horrible question at the same time. Gardner Minshew, maybe? I don’t want any part of that Fu Manchu and his weird cult-like following. There is a reason he has been a backup for the majority of his career and fans are much higher on him than NFL people are.
While Mike White has been a fun story, I’d also be super underwhelmed if he was QB1 in 2023. Zach Wilson should have a zero percent chance of starting and that pains me to say. I hope he gets the time to sit back and learn — hopefully from a proven experienced starter — and maybe down the line, he can emerge from his cocoon and become a beautiful butterfly. Right now, he is an ugly caterpillar that isn’t ready for the spotlight and everything that entails.
The worst possible QB scenario would be a move for an old has-been like Andy Dalton or Teddy Bridgewater — two current unrestricted free agent options. Now, there’s almost no way the Jets go that small at the position considering Woody Johnson’s statements but it’s still worth mentioning.
A more realistic disaster would be the status quo. If the Jets miss on Rodgers, Carr and even the Jimmy Garoppolos and Ryan Tannehills of the world — should he become available — they cannot just re-sign White and God-forbid — Joe Flacco — and just roll with them two and Wilson and call it a day under a new OC.
The fanbase would riot in the streets if that happened, and both Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas would most likely be writing their obituaries.
Jets Offseason Spotlight: Rookies & Veterans
3. Did any prospects stand out to you at the Senior Bowl this week?
I freaking love the Senior Bowl. I was supposed to go for the very first time this year but my daughter just had her 1-year birthday — so maybe next year. Alas, I was able to absorb all the festivities through the televised events while having some conversations with several people in the know that are down there.
I did a column last week on John Michael Schmitz and I’d love to get him as the long-term answer at the center position.
Another name that could be really intriguing is Princeton wide receiver Andrei Iosivas. A near 6-foot-3, 212-pound playmaker that has some elite track speed. The Jets need more size in their wide receiver room, whether Corey Davis is back or not. He could be a nice option during the latter stages of the 2023 NFL draft and he really impressed me.
I didn’t get to watch the Senior Bowl much this year, but I did follow along on Twitter throughout. One player that caught my attention was hulking right tackle Dawand Jones out of Ohio State.
Buckeyes left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. may go top-10 but I’d love to see Jones in green too if the Jets trade up or down from their current position in round one or round two. I mean, his nickname is “Big Thanos” for Christ’s sake! In case you don’t follow the Marvel universe, regular Thanos is pretty big in his own right.
Any who, Jones was throwing pass rushers to the ground all week and it reminded me of watching Jets DE Jermaine Johnson Jr. torching the competition last year. If the top left tackles are off the board at No. 13, the Jets could think about a possible draft riser in Jones.
4. Give me one Jets unrestricted free agent that you’re willing to guarantee the team re-signs this offseason.
This one may not be sexy to some people, but it is uber important to me, and that is solidifying the kicker position. Give me Greg Zuerlein or give me death!
Was he perfect in 2022? Absolutely not, but he was much better than the product the Jets have been throwing out at that spot. It’s time to solve the problem and give him a pile of money to lock down the position for the next few years.
A good/great kicker can separate good teams from great teams. Good football teams are normally in close games and kickers are even more important in those situations.
I took this question, not as — who do I want back, but who do I think is most likely to re-sign?
Looking at the list of UFAs in 2023, there are a lot of guys that probably won’t return. George Fant, Connor McGovern, Flacco (let’s hope), Lamarcus Joyner, and even White if the Jets add a veteran QB. Linebacker Quincy Williams could also price himself out of town and Kwon Alexander’s situation might hinge on whatever happens with Williams.
Having said all of that, there are three guys I’m leaning toward and they’re all smaller names: DTs Solomon Thomas and Nathan Shepherd, and IOL Dan Feeney. All three of these players appear to be well-liked by the coaching staff and within the locker room. They’re all depth pieces that Saleh has become accustomed to, and none have a particularly robust market elsewhere. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if all three returned.
Having said that, if I had to guarantee one does, I’ll go with Shepherd, simply because I’ve been wanting him gone for years and he always seems to hang around.
5. We did this two weeks ago and we’re interested to see if anything has changed. Gut call, predict the Jets’ 2023 quarterback at this stage of the offseason (Feb 7). P.S. Boy Green nailed the Hackett-OC prediction two weeks ago.
You could say I have the Midas touch baby! I don’t give predictions, I give spoiler alerts! After I tell you who will be starting at quarterback for the Jets in 2023, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @BoyGreen25 and I’ll share the winning lottery numbers for this week too.
Anyway, back to the question, I’m going to stick to my guns and say it’ll be Packers lead signal-caller Aaron Rodgers. I’m not saying the Jets hired Hackett as the OC to lure Rodgers to New York. However, I am also not saying that they didn’t do that knowing what that could lead too.
General manager Joe Douglas is normally always thinking about the future but the tense situation from ownership will force him to think about the present and go all-in at QB with Rodgers. There’s an outside shot it could be Carr because that situation will figure itself out sooner and the Jets want to know who their QB is ASAP. However, I’ll stick with A-Rod.
Good to see that correct prediction has NOT gone to my partner’s head (joking). Two weeks ago, I said Carr — but my opinion has changed. From everything I’ve seen, the Jets are all-in on landing Rodgers, not Carr, and the timeline doesn’t work out where if they miss on Rodgers, they can just call up the Raiders QB as their backup plan. He’ll be gone by then.
Because of this and the fact that I think Rodgers is more likely to choose the Raiders, my gut is telling me the Jets end up with Garoppolo, or potentially Tannehill. I’ll say Jimmy G as my “favorite” just because Tannehill isn’t currently available, but those two are the more likely backup plans when Rodgers inevitably crushes our souls.
It would be ironic if the Jets fired Mike LaFleur, only to end up with the guy that knows his system — but then again, that would just be so typical of this franchise.
BONUS QUESTION: Super Bowl LVII Picks
Who is winning the 2023 Super Bowl?
I love bonus questions! For those who don’t know, my day job is as a sports talk radio host, and I’ve interviewed several insiders from both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles. All of the Eagles people are insanely confident, while the Chiefs’ people have quiet confidence. I’m not betting against Mahomes though, and I’ll take Chiefs Kingdom winning an epic clash 38-35 on Super Bowl Sunday!
The Eagles feel like a powerhouse from top to bottom, but as my partner stated, it’s hard to bet against both Mahomes and Andy Reid — who have a lot more big-game experience than Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni. However, this SB matchup reminds me of the Eagles vs. the Pats from five years ago and this sport is won and lost in the trenches. I’m taking Philly to win 30-27.