Zach Wilson Trade: Will Jets Trade a Draft Pick To Get Rid of Wilson’s Salary?

The Jets still haven't traded Zach Wilson and may have to sacrifice a draft pick to convince another team to absorb his salary. What will a trade cost New York?

The New York Jets allowed quarterback Zach Wilson to seek a trade in late February, but as of early April, the former No. 2 overall pick remains on Gang Green’s roster. He won’t be Aaron Rodgers’ backup after New York signed veteran QB Tyrod Taylor, so Wilson is searching for a new home.

The only problem? Not only has Wilson been among the NFL‘s worst QBs since entering the league in 2021, but he’s not exactly cheap.

Owed more than $5 million in guaranteed salary next season, Wilson will be a relatively well-compensated backup quarterback in 2024. Will the Jets have to send a late-round pick along with Wilson in a trade just to get rid of his salary?

Why the Jets May Have To Pay To Trade Zach Wilson

New York has received offers for Wilson, but none have been enticing enough for the Jets to trade the BYU product, according to Pro Football Talk. Owner Woody Johnson suggested in late March that New York will retain Wilson if the club can’t work out a suitable trade.

However, the “sense around the league” is that the Jets will need to add a draft pick in a Wilson trade in order to convince another team to take on a portion, if not all, of his upcoming salary, as Rich Cimini of ESPN recently reported.

MORE: 2024 Pre-Draft NFL Trade Hypotheticals

Wilson’s prorated signing bonus money ($5.731 million) is already a sunk cost for New York. But his $5.453 million base salary and roster bonus — fully guaranteed — can still be moved to a new club.

While less than $6 million may seem like a drop in the bucket given the NFL’s $255 million salary cap, that’s critical cap space for a win-now Jets roster. It’s enough for general manager Joe Douglas to sign his seven-man 2024 NFL Draft class.

So, what draft pick will the Jets have to sacrifice to persuade a rival club to acquire Wilson and his salary? Douglas can look at recent prior NFL salary-dump trades for guidance.

Brock Osweiler, Ryan Tannehill Trades Could Affect Wilson Deal

NFL teams have used draft picks to sort out financial differences in trades for years.

In many cases, clubs were willing to “pre-pay” salary before trading a player to receive better compensation. For example, the Denver Broncos picked up $9 million of Von Miller’s salary before sending him to the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, enabling them to acquire second and third-round picks for an aging player in a contract year.

But the Jets’ situation with Wilson more closely resembles the scenarios the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins faced with fellow QBs Brock Osweiler and Ryan Tannehill, respectively. New York wants to get rid of Wilson’s salary and may be willing to attach a draft pick to make a trade worthwhile for another franchise.

In 2021, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap analyzed a decade’s worth of cash-swap trades to determine the typical draft-pick price NFL teams have been open to paying to clear salary.

By estimating the value of future draft picks and accounting for the loss of a potential compensatory selection once the player eventually leaves as a free agent, Fitzgerald assigned a dollar value to every point of draft position gained via OTC’s draft value chart.

The Texans paid $21,448 per draft value point to trade Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns in 2017, while the Dolphins paid $12,821 per point to trade Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans in 2019.

That’s an average of $17,134 per point for two veteran quarterbacks. Let’s assume that’s the price the Jets will need to pay to eliminate Wilson’s salary.

If Gang Green wants another club to take on $5 million of Wilson’s 2024 earnings, they’d need to trade roughly 292 points worth of draft capital. That’s equivalent to the 209th pick in the draft (a late sixth-round choice). New York currently owns pick No. 185.

KEEP READING: Re-Drafting the 2021 NFL Draft

If the Jets only want to shed $2.5 million or so of Wilson’s contract, they’d probably only need to attach one of their seventh-round choices (Nos. 256 or 257).

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles