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Jets GM Joe Douglas still 'open' to trading QB Zach Wilson, but acknowledges he 'is an asset'

Joe Douglas learned a lesson about quarterbacks in 2023, one that made him both double-down on the significant trade he swung in 2022, and prepare to part with a former top pick.

Zach Wilson's days in New York are likely numbered. The Jets are prepared to move on from the No. 2 pick of the 2021 draft if an interested party makes a worthwhile offer, but they aren't in a hurry.

"I know you guys talked to (Jets owner) Woody (Johnson) about Zach, and my thoughts are in line with Woody that Zach is an asset," the Jets' general manager said Friday. "At that same time, we're obviously open to trading Zach. There have been discussions. Nothing's really changed since we talked in Florida. We're open to trading him, there's just no news to report on that."

Wilson has chosen to stay away from the team during the Jets' voluntary workouts, an understandable decision given his status. Douglas didn't expound much on the matter, deferring to the fact it's a voluntary period, and a decision that is "for Zach to make if he wants to be here."

It's not difficult to see why Wilson wouldn't want to be there. He arrived as the anointed future of the Jets, was thrown into the fire behind a leaky offensive line, and repeatedly failed to show signs of progress. He likely entered 2023 expecting to spend it sitting behind Aaron Rodgers, the future Hall of Famer whom New York acquired in a blockbuster deal that put the Jets at the front of the 2023 hype train.

That train derailed when Rodgers suffered an Achilles injury on his fourth play of his Jets career -- and threw Wilson back into the blaze, which quickly became a disastrous inferno.

If New York needed proof Wilson wasn't the long-term answer, they received plenty of it in 2023. Now, they're looking to move on -- and potentially create a developmental scenario for another young passer with zero pressure as a third signal-caller on New York's depth chart behind both Rodgers and veteran Tyrod Taylor, whom Douglas wisely signed as insurance after learning how valuable it can be in 2023.

"The most important position in sports," Douglas said. "For us, it's funny, I was going back and looking just through some drafts, some drafts the way that teams handled the quarterback position. I went back and looked at how the Packers in the '90s. You draft a guy like Mark Brunell in the fifth round and then you draft (Matt) Hasselbeck in the sixth round and you develop. They were a quarterback farm when Farve was there. Aaron Brooks. Then they drafted Aaron (Rodgers) in the first round, but I would love to be a quarterback factory.

"I would love to have quarterbacks that we take every year in the draft. Even if you hit on two or three like the Packers did, you can really those into future picks or they develop into starters elsewhere like Mark Brunell and Aaron Brooks and Hasselbeck all did."

It's ambitious, but the Jets will need a successor for Rodgers before long. Why not add a young talent and allow him to learn behind Rodgers for a season or two, insert him as the replacement for a then-retired Rodgers, and establish an effective system that can create low-risk assets for the future?

That's not atop New York's list right now, though. With Wilson, they learned osmosis alone won't turn a quarterback with potential into a legitimate product. And they'll have to figure out what to do with him in the next few weeks or months, especially if they need to create space to carry a developmental prospect added in the draft or as an undrafted free agent.

Plus, they owe it to Wilson to place him somewhere worthwhile instead of simply dumping him.

It will be a necessary balancing act, one the Jets never envisioned when they selected him with the second pick in 2021.

"That's the trick, right?" Douglas said. "That's the magic trick, so to speak, is to try to make sure that Zach's in the right spot, but also doing what's right for the New York Jets. That is the line we're walking. We have to do what's right for the team."

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