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Zach Wilson’s messy Jets career to end with reported trade to Broncos

The New York Jets are reportedly trading former first-round pick Zach Wilson to the Denver Broncos, ending a career with the team that ranged from satisfactory to disastrous.

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Wilson will compete with Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci to begin next season as the Broncos’ starter, although Denver may select a quarterback in this week’s draft. ESPN reports that the Broncos sent a sixth-round pick to the Jets in return for Wilson and a seventh-round pick. New York will also pay for some of Wilson’s $5.5m salary in 2024.

The Jets picked Wilson with the No 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft as the team hoped to avoid selecting yet another bust at quarterback. But there were some who believed Wilson’s gaudy college numbers at BYU were disproportionately boosted by a strong supporting cast and a weak schedule of opponents. Those doubts appeared to be proved true as Wilson struggled badly in his first season, although he occasionally flashed glimpses of his talent and was not helped by a weak team surrounding him. The Jets started the 2022 season strongly, but Wilson had little to do with their success, was unpopular with some of his teammates and was benched towards the end of the campaign.

When the team traded for Aaron Rodgers before the start of last season, Wilson appeared to be set for a spell as a back-up, where he could possibly learn from one of the game’s all-time greats. But Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury in his Jets debut and Wilson was called back into action as the Jets starter. 2023 was statistically the best of Wilson’s Jets career – and the only one in which he threw more touchdowns than interceptions – but he still failed to play like a first-round quarterback and, with Rodgers returning from injury, the Jets have decided to move on.

In 33 starts over three season, the 24-year-old threw for 6,239 yards, 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. His QBR of 30.6 in 2023 was the worst among qualified starters in the NFL.