Wilson skips Jets workouts while on trade block

Sports

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, on the trading block since the start of the offseason, is skipping voluntary workouts as he remains in limbo with the NFL draft approaching next week.

Wilson, the former No. 2 overall pick, was granted permission in February to speak to teams about a potential trade. General manager Joe Douglas said Friday he’s had discussions with teams, but added, “There’s just no news to report on that.”

In his first three seasons, Wilson was always an active participant in the offseason program, so his absence is out of character. Of course, the landscape has changed, as the organization has publicly declared its willingness to move on from the former starter-turned-backup.

The Jets already replaced him on the roster, having signed veteran Tyrod Taylor as Aaron Rodgers‘ backup.

“I think it’s each player’s choice whether they’re going to be here for phase one (of the program),” Douglas said at his pre-draft news conference. “These are all voluntary. There are quite a few players that haven’t come for the first week. So, look, that’s a decision that Zach has to make.”

At this point, it would be a surprise if Wilson shows up for workouts, especially if his situation drags beyond the draft. Meanwhile, backup jobs have filled up around the league as the Jets wait for an acceptable trade offer. The stumbling block appears to be Wilson’s 2024 salary — $5.45 million, fully guaranteed — and how much the Jets are willing to absorb.

Douglas said he’s mindful of the long delay and how it could be impacting Wilson’s job prospects, but he also wants to do what’s best for the organization.

“I mean, that’s the trick, right?” he said. “That’s the magic trick, so to speak, is to try to make sure that Zach’s in a good spot, but also doing what’s right for the New York Jets. So that’s the line we’re walking.”

Owner Woody Johnson said last month at the owners’ meetings that they would keep Wilson on the roster if they can’t find a trading partner. If they release him, the cap hit would be the same as if he’s on the roster — $11.2 million. Retaining Wilson until training camp seems unlikely because of the awkwardness.

Douglas said he’s on the same page as Johnson, calling Wilson “an asset,” but he stopped short of saying he will be on the same team if there’s no trade.

“I mean, look, we’re still in April,” he said. “Training camp is months away, so there’s a chance for a lot of different things. I’m not going to get into what’s going to happen.”

Johnson may have hurt Wilson’s trade value in February, telling reporters they “didn’t have a backup last season.” Wilson replaced the injured Rodgers in Week 1, but eventually got benched as the offense sputtered. In three seasons, Wilson is 12-21 as a starter, with 23 touchdown passes and 25 interceptions.

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