Entering the 2021 season no one knew who Mike White was.
He had been hanging around on the New York Jets roster for a few years, but never got an opportunity to play in a game.
Then due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances, he found his way on the football field and took advantage of his opportunity.
White stepped in for Zach Wilson and had one of the greatest debuts in NFL history going 37-of-45 for 405 yards and three touchdowns. Best of all he delivered an improbable win over the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31 against at the time one of the best teams in the AFC.
So far this season he has played in four games and has started in three of those. The latter two didn’t go nearly as well and White went from making an appearance in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and hearing his name chanted by the fans at MetLife Stadium to the bench.
The NFL is a cold-blooded business.
Fast forward several weeks later and many are wondering what White’s future is with the Jets?
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Wants to Be Here for a Long Time
White spoke to the media on Friday for the first time since being benched after the Week 10 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills 45-17.
The 26-year-old was activated off of the COVID-reserve list earlier this week by the Jets. He had missed the past five games after testing positive for the virus.
“I think I’ve shown some good things on the field when I got my opportunities, White talking about his future with the team to the media via Yahoo Sports. “And not only on the field, but just off the field in the day-to-day operations of it — helping Zach with whatever he needs and being a sounding board for him or offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur or anything of that nature. I really enjoy guys here and on this staff, and I think we all work really well together and I think we’ve got a good QB room. Hopefully, I can be here for the years to come.”
The former Western Kentucky product is a pending restricted free agent this offseason.
White is making a cool $850,000 this season but will have a chance at a significant pay raise this offseason depending on what tender the Jets slap on him.
They will likely do a right of first refusal which is hovering around $2.4 million for 2022. If any other NFL team attempted to sign him to an offer sheet this offseason, the Jets could match and keep White. Or they could let him walk and they would receive a fifth-round pick as compensation per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
Gang Green could also choose to give him a second-round tender, but his price tag would jump all the way up to $3.9 million for next season. That seems unlikely at this point.
Just One Injury Away
After initially holding down the backup quarterback gig earlier this season, things have gotten messy with the acquisition of veteran Joe Flacco.
Although Flacco along with a slew of other players was placed on the COVID-reserve list and head coach Robert Saleh was pessimistic on Thursday that any one else would come off the list ahead of the Week 16 matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That puts White in as the No. 2 quarterback behind Wilson on Sunday and if the Jets play their cards right he’ll be the long-term backup here in New York for the foreseeable future.