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Jets trade QB Zach Wilson to Broncos in exchange for late-round pick swap

Zach Wilson is headed to a new home out west.

The New York Jets are trading the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2024 late-round pick swap, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Monday. New York gets a sixth-round pick (No. 203), while Denver will receive a seventh-round pick (No. 256) in return along with Wilson.

Though a trade involving Wilson seemed increasingly inevitable in the last four months, the partner remained elusive. Denver answered that question this week by swinging a deal for the former BYU star and Utah native who entered the NFL as one of the most highly touted prospects of his class, but flopped tremendously under the bright lights of New York.

Wilson arrived as the Jets' handpicked future under center, but went just 3-10 in a rookie year that saw him take 44 sacks, throw 11 interceptions and finish with a sub-70 passer rating while playing behind a leaky offensive line that made the NFL game overwhelming for the young passer. He returned and performed only slightly better in his second season, dragging down a Jets team that had an elite defense, but couldn't win on that alone, prompting New York to swing a massive deal for Aaron Rodgers in the 2023 offseason.

Wilson was supposed to recede into the shadows in 2023 and hopefully learn from the future Hall of Famer, but he was quickly tossed back into the fire just four snaps into the regular season due to Rodgers' season-ending Achilles injury. Given one final -- albeit not ideal -- chance to prove his viability as an asset worth keeping beyond 2023, Wilson failed to capitalize, going 4-7 and struggling incredibly in some weeks to get the job done. By the end of the season, New York -- and likely Wilson -- were ready to move on, but waited until the week of the 2024 NFL Draft to get a deal done.

Wilson heads to Denver to join a Broncos team seeking options under center following their split with Russell Wilson. Because of that divorce, Denver doesn't have the budget to spend on a confirmed starter at quarterback, leading the Broncos to take a flier on adding Zach Wilson to a quarterbacks room that includes Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci.

It could be the perfect opportunity for Wilson, a quarterback in need of an escape from the intense scrutiny of New York, and proper tutelage under the direction of a head coach like Denver's Sean Payton. Wilson will have a chance to compete for a job with the Broncos, who are keeping all options open as they pick up the pieces from the failed Russell Wilson marriage.

We'll see if Payton and general manager George Paton stop there at quarterback, or add another when the draft kicks of Thursday night in Detroit. One thing is for certain, though: After three arduous years in New York, Zach Wilson can finally pack his possessions for a new opportunity elsewhere.

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