INDIANAPOLIS — Jets coach Robert Salih went to bed with a stomach ache Tuesday night and woke up knowing he wouldn’t be able to make it to the NFL for his team’s second meeting with quarterback Derek Carr.
“I’m sad that I didn’t,” Saleh said via video call on Thursday.
Saleh wasn’t originally planning on joining the group anyway — he wasn’t last year — but this was clearly a unique circumstance, with the Jets (and others) chasing Carr in free agency. Owner Woody Johnson and General Manager Joe Douglas were at the meeting, and now the Jets — and the rest of the league, really — is on hold as everyone awaits a decision from Aaron Rodgers about his future, and the domino effect that will be on Carr and others.
The Jets didn’t have a full team in Indianapolis — many coaches skip the event now — but there were some Jets assistant coaches in town to help out with spot drills with draft prospects, as well as Douglas, assistant general manager Rex Hogan, and the team’s scouting staff and office members. other anterior.
Well, I was in town too.
Here are some of the things I hear about the Jets, their midfield pursuit and so much more after speaking to six professional scouts, coaches or executives who are familiar with the team’s discussions and have been given anonymity so they can speak freely.
I hear that… The Jets are ready to wait for Rodgers. No one really knows what Rodgers thinks about his future even after he spoke about it on a podcast this week, his first public comments since coming out on a four-day dark retreat. He didn’t look like someone who planned to retire, dismissing the idea that his skills were declining.
So the next question becomes: Which team does he want to play for? The Raiders appeared to have removed themselves from the race, while the Giants said they would plans to Prepared by Ryan Tannehill. They’re shaped like beams, jets, or Rodgers busts, unless a mysterious team plans to enter the fray.
Throughout the league, there is an expectation that if Rodgers doesn’t retire, he probably will Back to the packages — and that they would welcome him back with open arms. But Rodgers hasn’t recently reached out to Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, so that’s mostly just conjecture. The Jets have hired one of Rodgers’ closest friends (Nathaniel Hackett) as offensive coordinator, but I’ve heard that hasn’t helped provide any insight into his decision yet.
Despite it all, the Jets are willing to wait for Rodgers to make a decision because they believe a quarterback, even at 39, gives them the best chance of not only making the playoffs, but contending for the Super Bowl. Yes, it will cost a lot, both financially and commercially, but the Jets see getting a quarterback of Rodgers’ caliber as worth it – even if it also means adding to the drama that follows.
The Jets are satisfied with their flirtation with Derek Carr, but an Aaron Rodgers decision looms large
“You always want it done yesterday, but we appreciate everyone’s process,” Saleh said of finalizing the quarterback decision. “We appreciate the time everyone needs. It’s just that we are intentional in our process and take care of our things and also be considerate and respectful of others as well.”
I hear that… If Rodgers ends up returning to Green Bay, the Jets should be considered favorites to land on Carr. His meeting in New Jersey recently with Saleh et al It went well The Jets view Carr as the quarterback who can roll over the hump and compete in the AFC.
But this does not mean that they are completely suitable.
Carr should be able to handle the scrutiny and criticism that comes with being the Jets’ quarterback. An NFC scout also cited concerns about how Carr would handle the pressure of rushing games, noting that he began to have an aversion to contact after fracturing his fibula at the end of the 2016 season and while battling a rib injury in 2022.
The Jets are aware of this perception of Carr, but have also expressed confidence — privately and publicly — that the offensive line will be much better in 2023, and that he was just decimated by injuries last season.
Salih compared Carr to Matthew Stafford, who struggled on bad Lions teams for most of his career before landing an elite supporting cast with the Rams and winning the Super Bowl.
“He was asked to do a lot in his career,” Salih said of Carr. “It’s more in line with what Stafford’s career has been in terms of: If you can just move him to a place that can surround him with all the pieces to only allow him to quarterback 10-15 times a game, that would be great.”
Salih also said that Carr had an “outstanding mental make-up” and “tremendous accuracy and arm strength”. He praised his ability to “put the ball anywhere you want it” and said Carr was “underrated” in his ability to scramble and evade pressure.
If the Jets go all out in pursuit of Carr — they haven’t offered him a contract yet — what will it cost? The expectation is that his next contract could average between $35 million and $40 million, though the structure of the deal (in terms of guaranteed money and cap results) is what really matters.
I hear that… The Jets are expected to keep Zach Wilson on the roster — and they’re not worried his presence will be a distraction this season. This is a unique bench: Wilson is a highly drafted quarterback and no one thinks he should be a starting quarterback right now. There wouldn’t be people calling Wilson a starter if the QB1 struggled in 2023, and the Jets believe being able to coach and develop him behind the scenes without too much scrutiny could be good for him.
Wilson can still recover from a historically poor start to his career, but the Jets also know he may never get better.
Either way, his role will be as a backup in 2023.
“The focus is just to help (Wilson) get as good as possible,” Saleh said. “If he’s shown his best as a New York Jet, he’ll be great. If not, he’s still great, because all we want is the best for him and his development.”
I hear that… It wouldn’t be a shock if the Jets ended up drafting a quarterback. Maybe not in the first round (unless one of them sees him as a potential franchise quarterback who has fallen to #13), but Day 2 or Day 3. The Jets may be in a position to come back from the 13th pick as well – if that pick doesn’t It is transferred in a Rodgers trade.
I hear that… Gates hopes Duane Brown will return in 2023. Brown has not yet decided whether to continue playing or retire, though what Gates does at quarterback may be a factor in his decision. The Browns, who turn 38 in August, will carry a cap hit of $11.3 million, but the Jets will welcome him back if he chooses to keep playing. He’ll likely start at left tackle again, too.
Brown recently had surgery on his left shoulder, fixing a problem he’d battled all season, and one that earned him a lot of respect in the Jets building.
“Dwayne is a weird rock star, man,” said Salih, who spoke to Brown recently. “The way he fought through pain and injury and did what 98 per cent of players wouldn’t do, which is play when he didn’t have to. All his money was already guaranteed, he still had problems playing and he played (12) games with us. If If he were here, that would be great.”
If the Browns return and can be ready to play in Week 1, the Jets will have to decide if they trust Mekhi Becton or Max Mitchell enough to shut down one of them as a starter at right tackle, or if they need to pursue a promotion in free agency or the draft.
“The more, the more the merrier,” Saleh said with a smile. “Joe (Douglas) would have 52 offensive linemen on the roster and one quarterback if he could make it.”
I hear that… The Jets really want to bring back their defense from 2022 — ranked the best in the NFL by Pro Football Focus — as often as they can, Saleh said Thursday. A few notable defensive players are set to become no-strings-attached free agents: defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, linebacker Quincy Williams, safety LaMarcus Joyner, linebacker Kwon Alexander, defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas. Defensive end Bryce Huff is also a restricted free agent and likely to return.
The Jets could also switch from defensive end Carl Lawson for a $15.4 million save, but I’ve heard the coaching staff act like he’s going to come back.
Of that group, Rankins and Williams will be the top keepers, though it will be interesting to see how much Douglas is willing to open up the Gates purse to keep. Rankins signed a two-year, $17 million deal in 2021 and he should be able to get it back. Williams could have a strong market in free agency and could put himself out of the Jets’ range, even though they’d love to bring him back.
If Williams leaves, keep an eye on Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmonds, also a free agent.
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I hear that… There will be a lot more spin on offense. Center Connor McGovern may be priced more than the Jets are willing to pay, and George Fant is not expected to return. Guard Nate Herbig, also a free agent, may not have a starting job available with the Jets — Alijah Vera-Tucker and Laken Tomlinson both return — and he’s good enough to start elsewhere.
Saleh said he would like to bring back quarterback Mike White, but he is expected to receive a lot of interest in free agency as a developing backup and could be very expensive.
Wide receiver Corey Davis is still expected to be released for the max save, and Braxton Berrios may be on his way out as well. Expect the Jets to add new contributors in wide receiver, offensive line, quarterback and possibly in running back as well, as Breece Hall continues to recover from his AFL injury.
If the Jets get Rodgers, Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard — a free agent — could follow him to New York.
(Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)