The Jets report to training camp in one week, with their first full practice coming next Wednesday. With a week to go, there are still some unresolved issues around the team that bear watching.
Here are a few:
At the moment, there are three quarterbacks on the roster, and none has ever taken a snap in an NFL game. It is clear Zach Wilson, the No. 2-overall pick, is the starter, but who will be his backup? Will the Jets really go with Mike White or James Morgan, who have no experience?
There are not any good veteran options out there at this point. Matt Barkley is a free agent and old friend Josh McCown is still out there if the Jets wanted to try to lure him back, but McCown seems ready to coach.
The name connected to the Jets the most in recent months is Bears quarterback Nick Foles. Chicago has Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, leaving Foles seemingly as the odd man out. Jets general manager Joe Douglas was with the Eagles when Foles led them to a Super Bowl win in 2017, so there is familiarity.
The Jets and Bears have had discussions, according to sources, but it seems unlikely that any deal will happen. The problem is Foles’ contract. He is due to make $4 million this season and next. The Bears surely would have to eat some of that contract to facilitate a trade. Some may argue the Jets should wait to see if the Bears cut Foles, but that seems unlikely. He’ll carry a $14 million dead money charge if released, nearly $8 million higher than his cap number if he is on the team. If Chicago does get motivated to move Foles, the Jets have three sixth-round picks next year and could part with one of them for Foles.
Jets coach Robert Saleh was asked about the backup quarterback situation in June and did not sound like he was in a rush to bring in a veteran.
“I know [White and Morgan have] had their ups and downs, just like Zach has but, it doesn’t mean that just because they’re veteran it’ll help the quarterback,” Saleh said. “There’s a match that has to happen, there’s a scheme familiarity that has to happen. If you just bring in a veteran that doesn’t know anything about your scheme, he’s learning just like the rookie is. Aside from helping him rehab… and study habits — which I think Zach, and that entire quarterback room, is already ahead of the curve on, with how they handle their bodies and study — I don’t know if there’s much value aside from being comfortable that if something hits the fan, that you have a veteran who’s played football. It’s more of a comforting feeling, rather than trying to work your ass off to develop the quarterbacks that are already in the building.”
Two of the Jets’ top three draft picks remain unsigned — Wilson and Elijah Moore. There is usually a flurry of rookie deals signed in the days leading up to the first training camp practice, so there is no need to panic about this yet. To wit, Alijah Vera-Tucker signed his deal Tuesday. Still, the Jets would feel better if they had everyone signed and ready to go. Since the rookie wage scale was introduced in 2011, there is very little for agents and teams to negotiate. It usually comes down to contract language. Sam Darnold missed the first three days of training camp as a rookie in 2018 because of a disagreement over some contract details.
If these deals are not done by next Wednesday, then it is time to get concerned.
The Jets and safety Marcus Maye failed to reach a deal on a long-term contract extension by the July 15 deadline, and Maye will now play the season on the franchise tag.
There has to be some hard feelings toward the team from Maye, the longest-tenured Jet, for not giving him the contract he desired. Will he be able to put business aside when he steps on the field? Maye has acted professionally since the day the Jets drafted him. It seems unlikely he will make himself a distraction, but he may find a way to get his message across.