Year one of Zach Wilson’s era as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets is officially in the books and although it probably didn’t go the way the roster wanted, things did come together nicely for the offense down the stretch.
The O-line in particular flipped the narrative over the second half to have its best season in a long time according to Pro Football Focus. To the surprise of many, the Jets blocking unit finished 11th in the NFL on their end-of-season rankings.
A big part of that was due to career campaigns for center Connor McGovern and fill-in left tackle George Fant. Morgan Moses and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif also helped as reinforcements and 2021 first-rounder Alijah Vera-Tucker put together a solid rookie season in the pros.
This jump was most notable in the rushing attack, as Gang Green ran for over 100 yards in five out of their last eight games and ran for an NFL season-record 273 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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Wilson Teams With JetBlue for ‘Anywhere’ Tickets
In case you haven’t heard, the rookie quarterback has an uncle in the airline business. David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue Airways, is the brother of Lisa Wilson — his mother.
Before I continue, I’d just like to take a moment to point out how ironic it is that the “Jets” starting QB has an uncle who has made a fortune off airplane travel — but I digress.
Whether the JetBlue prodigy will work out in New York is still up for debate but his offensive linemen will happily reap the benefits in the meantime.
At the end of the 2021 regular season, Wilson rewarded each of his blockers with two roundtrip tickets on JetBlue Mint — an award-winning premium seating package. The destination? “Anywhere” in the world.
While it’s unlikely the rookie had to pay for these tickets himself, it’s still a nice gesture — and a pretty sweet gift — from the 22-year old signal-caller.
“Love and appreciate my guys. Thanks for protecting me all season long. Can’t wait to run it back next season,” Wilson voiced in the tweet. Fant noted that he’ll probably fly out to the Bahamas or somewhere like that while Moses joked that “the wifey is going to enjoy this.”
Put this in the recruitment pitch Robert Saleh. If you come block for Wilson, you’ll get free plane tickets to a destination of your choosing. That’ll give new meaning to the mantra: “Take Flight.”
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Next Steps for Jets O-Line
This group had a nice bounceback campaign but there are still some question marks heading into the offseason. Below are the contract situations for every NYJ O-lineman.
- Mekhi Becton: Under a rookie contract until 2025 with a fifth-year option.
- Fant: Under contract until 2023. Could extend/restructure $10.6 million cap hit in 2022.
- Vera-Tucker: Under a rookie contract until 2026 with a fifth-year option.
- McGovern: Under contract until 2023. Could extend/restructure $10.33 million cap hit in 2022.
- Greg Van Roten: Under contract until 2023. Could restructure/cut $3.5 million cap hit in 2022. No dead cap if they release him.
- Chuma Edoga: Under contract until 2023. Could cut $1.181 million cap hit in 2022. $216,750 dead cap if they release him.
- Cameron Clark: Under a rookie contract until 2024. Long-term IR with a neck injury.
- Parker Ferguson: Under contract until 2024.
- Reserve/future contracts: Grant Hermanns, Dru Samia, Isaiah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher.
- Free agents: Moses, Duvernay-Tardif, Dan Feeney, Conor McDermott, Greg Senat (exclusive-rights free agent), Alex Lewis (retired).
The Jets have a nice core in place but they’ll need to revamp their depth all around and find a long-term answer at right guard. Getting Becton back on the field — and keeping him there — is also paramount.