Joe Flacco, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, Jimmy Garoppolo, the names go on and on surrounding some of the league’s most high profile second-in-line signal-callers. While each talent offers their own unique set of traits considering mentorship ability, leadership prowess, and the ability to start on a moment's notice, all are currently set to backup a young, uber-talented quarterback, whether it be from Week 1, or later this fall… Dalton, I’m looking at you.
For the New York Jets and second overall selection Zach Wilson, the cupboard runs bare when eyeing a stoic veteran backup to help ease what can be a strenuous on-boarding process for a first-year quarterback. And with the current expectation of Wilson’s creative ability to accelerate the Jets’ rebuild, the onus for the former BYU gun-slinger to be mistake-free from the onset of his career could ultimately be a downfall for the talented quarterback if he finds himself in an internal battle if he were to flounder in his first few appearances.
Currently, the Jets are set up to be right back at the top of the draft in 2022 if Wilson were to succumb to unforeseen circumstances. As it stands, head coach Robert Saleh seems comfortable heading into camp with second-year man James Morgan as Wilson’s primary backup, and 2018 Dallas Cowboys fifth-rounder Mike White as his third-string emergency option. None of those three have taken a live rep in an NFL game.
That’s an issue, folks.
While the remaining market leaves much to be desired from a fundamental talent standpoint, it would be wise of general manager Joe Douglas to scour the landscape for a veteran backup option in case the injury bug or lack of immediate development were to rear its head against Wilson in his first season. Here are three available signal-callers Douglas should kick the tires on to assist his new face of the franchise while presenting a viable starting option in case of a worst-case scenario situation.
Look, you aren’t going to find a Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew-like backup talent this late in the offseason. It’s just not going to happen. So, bear with me here as we attempt to scrape substance from the bottom of the barrel of quarterbacks currently unemployed.
You can’t do much worse than Barkley, who touts 19 games of starting experience over six seasons. While the numbers just aren’t there, the former fourth-rounder has the veteran prowess necessary to both assist in Wilson’s extended grace period while providing a spot start or two.
Robert Griffin III
The 2012 No. 2 overall pick, there’s no one better to mentor Wilson than the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. Still with much left in the tank, Douglas bringing in a former Heisman winner, although nearly a decade ago, would push Wilson. Used as a mentor in Baltimore sitting behind Lamar Jackson, Griffin III could offer priceless words of wisdom for one of the league’s most gifted talents under center for years to come. With similar traits in an ability to stretch the field with his arm while creating off schedule during his time in Washington, the potential tandem of Wilson and Griffin III could develop into a fruitful 1-2 combo, considering the leadership ability of the former burgundy and gold standout.
At just 26 years old, Finley represents the youngest of his aging counterparts, but it doesn’t take away from his skill set or ability to lead and assist in ushering Wilson along his path to future success. A fourth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals just two seasons ago, Finley’s run at taking over under center for the Bengals was ultimately put to a halt with the selection of Joe Burrow. While no one is questioning the potential of Wilson jumping onto the NFL scene in his first season, Finley could represent the cleanest of all the options available if needed to step in.