Why Jets’ Zach Wilson trade dilemma could reach uncomfortable end

The trade market for Zach Wilson may be less active than a colony of slugs.

The Jets have been hoping to move Wilson this offseason, but the outlook is bleak after watching teams trade other quarterbacks from the 2021 draft class for pennies on the dollar.

The Patriots sent Mac Jones, who was taken 13 picks after Wilson, to the Jaguars for a 2024 sixth-round pick.

The Bears traded Justin Fields, who was taken No. 11 overall in 2021, to the Steelers and only received a 2025 conditional sixth-round pick that can become a fourth based on his playing time.

So, what does that mean for Wilson?

The Jets haven’t been able to trade Zach Wilson. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

You can definitely argue that Jones and Fields have shown more promise than Wilson.

Jones was a Pro Bowler in 2021 before things went off the rails in New England after Josh McDaniels left as offensive coordinator.

Fields has run for 2,220 yards and thrown for 6,674 yards. He has shown flashes of tantalizing athleticism and has not had much to work with in Chicago before they added D.J. Moore last year.

Wilson has played plenty over three seasons and only had a few good games. He has thrown 25 interceptions and 23 touchdowns and completed just 57 percent of his passes.

He also has had off-field incidents that don’t reflect well on him as a teammate.

You can start with 2022 in New England when he failed to take accountability for a 10-3 loss to the Patriots. That led to him being benched for Mike White.

Last season, he expressed reluctance about taking over as the starter again in December after he had been benched for Tim Boyle the month before.

The Jets have been ready to move on from Wilson for some time now. They thought they could fetch a Day 3 pick for him in this year’s draft, but that looks unlikely now.

The Jets want to move on from Zach Wilson but haven’t found a trade partner. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

The Jets gave his agent permission to find a trade partner shortly after the season ended but there have been no reports or rumors of interest.

There has been plenty of movement in trades and through free agency and there are not many open seats left.

Besides the trades of Wilson’s 2021 draft classmates, three members of the 2022 draft class have been traded with Kenny Pickett going to the Eagles, Desmond Ridder to the Cardinals and Sam Howell to the Seahawks.

That means teams viewed those players as a better option than Wilson.

The Bears got a conditional sixth-round pick from the Steelers for Justin Fields, a bad sign for the Jets in their quest to trade Zach Wilson. Getty Images

Looking at current depth charts, you’d expect the Bears, Commanders and Patriots to definitely draft a quarterback in the first three picks next month.

As for backups, the Ravens (Josh Johnson), Broncos (Jarrett Stidham/Ben DiNucci), Chiefs (Chris Oladukon) and 49ers (Brandon Allen) all could be looking for upgrades.

The Jets might have to attach a draft pick to Wilson to get someone to take him. Could they trade Wilson and a sixth-round pick for a fifth? Maybe.

The next critical point for the Jets is the draft next month. If a team fails to land the quarterback they are looking for, maybe the Jets could land a 2025 draft choice for Wilson.

Aaron Rodgers (l.) and Zach Wilson (r.) Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

If the Jets don’t move Wilson during the draft, then it will be time to consider releasing him.

The Jets do not want to cut Wilson and get nothing in return but they may not have any choice.

If they cut him, they would take a dead-money hit of $11.2 million on the salary cap.

By trading him, they cut the dead money hit to $5.7 million.

What may be more important to owner Woody Johnson than the cap hit, though, is the cash owed Wilson.

He has $5.5 million guaranteed coming to him in the final year of his rookie contract.

Paying him to not play for the Jets would be a tough pill to swallow for Johnson.

The Jets surely don’t want Wilson back in the locker room after how last year finished.

But how long are they willing to keep him on the roster? Will he last into OTAs? Training camp?

This will be a tough transaction for general manager Joe Douglas to navigate.

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