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NFL Draft

3 Starting QB Options For Jets While Zach Wilson Is Injured

  • The Draft Network
  • October 25, 2021
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Accounts out of New York on Monday morning indicate that New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a sprained PCL in Sunday’s embarrassing loss to their division rival New England Patriots. The setback will keep Wilson on the mend for approximately 2-4 weeks, per multiple reports.

It represents a horrific blow for a young Jets team that is in the process of developing their roster. Head coach Robert Saleh and staff are now tasked with finding a "Plan B" at starting quarterback, one that could at least help the Jets maintain some sort of competitiveness. Current backup signal-caller Mike White is not equipped to handle such a responsibility. General manager Joe Douglas must find a stopgap option until Wilson is ready to return from injury. Here are three realistic candidates that come to mind.

NICK MULLENS, CLEVELAND BROWNS

A former undrafted free agent out of Southern Miss, Mullens is currently taking up a spot on Cleveland’s practice squad. The Jets could pluck him away by simply offering him a spot on their 53-man roster and a chance to start their upcoming games.

What makes Mullens particularly intriguing in this scenario is his familiarity with Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and his offense. LaFleur served as San Francisco’s passing game coordinator throughout Mullens’ tenure as a 49er. Mullens appeared in 19 games for San Francisco while both LaFleur and Saleh were on staff, throwing for nearly 5,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. If New York is going to bring in a quarterback, it would ideally be one that could pick up the offense in a hurry. Mullens is the perfect candidate.

C.J. BEATHARD, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Beathard spent the better part of four seasons with Saleh and LaFleur in San Francisco. If the Jets are willing to part with future draft capital in order to secure the services of a capable quarterback, Beathard would make a ton of sense. Currently backing up Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, the Jaguars would likely accept a conditional late-day-three pick in exchange for Beathard, as Urban Meyer and Co. continue to look toward the future.

Beathard played the best football of his young career in 2020 under the guidance and tutelage of LaFleur. While appearing in six games, the former Iowa standout completed more than 63% of his passes while throwing six touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Beathard averaged nearly eight yards per completion and is more than just a check-down Charlie. He would certainly give the Jets a better option than what they currently employ.

JOSH JOHNSON, THEIR VERY OWN PRACTICE SQUAD!

If the Jets are searching for a veteran quarterback with experience in their system, they don’t have to go very far. Johnson, a 35-year-old signal-caller with plenty of NFL experience currently resides on their practice squad, and will likely be added to their active roster by the week’s end.  

Although Johnson never actually appeared in a game for the 49ers, he did spend a portion of 2020 on their practice squad. Like Mullens and Beathard, Johnson is plenty familiar with Saleh and LaFleur and how they operate offensively. More importantly, the Jets wouldn’t have to give up any assets in order to acquire him. We view him as the Jets’ likely starter in Week 8.

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