Jets will keep Zach Wilson if they can't trade him: Woody Johnson


ORLANDO, Fla. – Could Zach be back?

Jets owner Woody Johnson said Monday that the team will not release quarterback Zach Wilson if it cannot find a trade partner for him.

“If we don't trade him, we'll keep him,” Johnson said at NFL owners meetings.

The Jets have been trying to find someone interested in taking the former No. 2 off their hands, but nothing has materialized.

Jets owner Woody Johnson speaks to reporters in Orlando on March 25, 2024. Sunni

Johnson may have been taking his position Monday just to try to avoid ruining any trade value Wilson might have, but it was surprising to hear Johnson say the Jets would consider sticking with Wilson.

Johnson admitted that it would be better for Wilson to make a fresh start with another team.

“From his point of view, maybe it would be better if he changed faces and got to a new place and could clear everything up,” Johnson said. “I think this might be better for him.”

While Johnson said a new team would be in Wilson's best interest, he made it clear he wouldn't just give up on him.

“Zach is a valuable asset,” Johnson said. “I said it would be better for him. No, we won't just release him.”

Jets general manager Joe Douglas said he spoke with Wilson's agent, Brian Ayrault, who received permission to find a trade partner immediately after the season.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson Bill Costron for the New York Post

Douglas said he has also spoken with some teams, but nothing is imminent.

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“There were a lot of good conversations with his agent,” Douglas said Monday. “There have been some discussions with teams regarding a trade. I don't have any news to report. There's nothing close to being done on that front.”

Johnson's tone toward Wilson changed compared to last month's Super Bowl week when Johnson said, “We need a backup quarterback. We didn't have one last year.”

Wilson went 12-21 as a starter for the Jets and endured struggles on and off the field during his first three seasons.

Johnson said he hoped Wilson would sit behind Aaron Rodgers last season, as the team had planned.

Instead, Wilson took over four plays into the season when Rodgers was injured.

“I feel bad for Zach in some ways,” Johnson said. “Last year would have been amazing, and it would have been the first time he could sit back and watch the teacher work. He never had that before. He's been on fire since day one. I think that's what he needs. He needs to be in a place where “He can watch for a while. He's got the skill. He can do it all. There's a reason we drafted him No. 2 overall. I have confidence he'll get there at some point.”

There was a report from Pro Football Talk on Monday that the Jets had received offers for Wilson but it was Johnson who blocked the trade. Johnson said this is not true.

“I don't reject them,” Johnson said. “If it gets cancelled, Joe will be the one who cancels it.”

Both the Jets and Wilson would benefit from getting the deal done sooner rather than later, but Douglas said it should be a move that suits the Jets. They just don't want to dump it.

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“I think the trick is to make it beneficial for the team and the player,” Douglas said. “I think that's what everyone is working for, but in the end we'll have to do what's right for the team.”

Douglas spoke to reporters before Johnson said the team would not release Wilson.

Douglas was asked if he could envision Wilson staying with the Jets through 2024.

“We are very early in the offseason process,” Douglas said. “There's a lot of meat left on the bone when it comes to even going to training camp or even online travel agencies. I didn't even think about it much.”

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