Jets trade QB Zach Wilson to Broncos

The New York Jets have traded quarterback Zach Wilson and a seventh-round draft pick to the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos announced the trade on Tuesday, confirming multiple Monday reports.

The Jets will receive a sixth-round pick in return and will reportedly pay part of Wilson's $5.5 million salary next season.

Wilson joins the Broncos after three failed seasons in New York. The Jets selected Wilson with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft with hopes that he could develop into their long-awaited franchise quarterback. He instead was benched repeatedly for poor play in his first two seasons before the Jets moved on to acquire Aaron Rodgers prior to the 2023 season.

Wilson got another shot to start when Rodgers tore his Achilles on his first drive as New York's quarterback. He continued to struggle through 11 starts in 2023 as the Jets finished a disappointing 7-10 and out of the playoffs. Now he has a new home.

Zach Wilson is reportedly getting a fresh start with the Broncos. (Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)
Zach Wilson is reportedly getting a fresh start with the Broncos. (Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

Wilson joins a Broncos team in the midst of its own quarterback chaos. After two failed seasons, Denver punted this offseason on the Russell Wilson experiment. The Broncos released Wilson in March, a decision that came with an $85 million dead salary cap hit across the next two seasons. It also left the Broncos without a viable starting quarterback on the roster.

Wilson's exit elevated Jarrett Stidham to the top of Denver's depth chart. The four-year NFL veteran has four career starts. For his career that's included 16 game appearances for three teams, he's completed 59.6% of his passes for 7.2 yards per attempt with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Wilson arrives with considerably more starting experience. That experience doesn't inspire confidence that the Broncos are any closer to figuring out their quarterback woes.

In 34 career games, including 33 starts, Wilson completed 57% of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt and 185.1 yards per game with 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. The Jets went 12-21 in games that he started. He was the weak link on a 2023 team with a top-3 defense and playmakers on an offense that would have projected to compete for the AFC East with competent quarterback play.

Instead of making an in-season move to improve the position, the Jets stuck with Wilson through most of the season en route to a third-place AFC East finish out of the playoffs.

For now, Wilson projects to compete for the starting job in Denver next season. Practice squad quarterback Ben DiNucci was the only Broncos quarterback under contract other than Stidham prior to Wilson's arrival.

For the Broncos, Wilson amounts to a low-risk acquisition via a late-round draft pick swap. If he doesn't develop, the Broncos won't have lost much. But Broncos fans holding out hope for a competitive team in 2024 are still waiting for the franchise to make a significant move at quarterback.

Thursday's NFL Draft will be Denver's best opportunity to further address the position. The Broncos hold the No. 12 pick, but will likely have to move up to acquire one of the draft's coveted quarterback prospects.