Do they have one? It will be fascinating to find out

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It is going to be fascinating to see if they have one of these guys . . .

Before being gifted Matt Ryan by the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard, was in QB no man’s land with Carson Wentz on his way out, and no clear replacement was on the scene, and talked about the huge challenge for NFL GMs at that position.

“Other than maybe five or six players, they’re all looking for them. It’s hard,” Ballard said.

So true.

There are more than 5-6 good quarterbacks in the league, but only 5-6 elite quarterbacks who can put a team on his back, with major issues on the team, like O-Line issues and a bad defense, and still consistently win games. The guys who can do that are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson and you can probably add Joe Burrow, after taking a team to the Super Bowl last year with a bad offensive line.

There is the next tier of quarterbacks who are good, and who can win when surrounded by a strong supporting cast, like Matt Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert.

Where might Zach Wilson fit into this NFL tier system? It’s too early to tell. But I think we will get a better idea this season.

But if you pick a QB high, and he doesn’t work out, here is what Ballard said about that to reporters (before being gifted Ryan):

“Taking one will get y’all off my ass for a little bit, but the second that guy doesn’t play well? I’m gonna be the first one run out of the building,” Ballard said.

I understand what Ballard is saying here, and people have theorized that Joe Douglas is attached at the hip with Wilson, but I really don’t think that is the case.

Obviously, Douglas and the Jets’ brass think they picked the right guy in Wilson, but if he doesn’t work out, I think the GM will get another bite at the QB apple. Remember, he got a six-year deal. I don’t he will be fired if Wilson doesn’t work out. And hey, maybe that second bite at the apple is in the building with Mike White.

Before the 2011 CBA agreement, which implemented a lower rookie wage scale, you were probably more apt to get fired if the first-round QB didn’t work out. Guys like Stafford (2009 draft) and Sam Bradford (2010 draft) got around $50 million guaranteed before the 2011 CBA kicked in. A decade later, Wilson got $35.2 guaranteed.

So when GMs picked quarterbacks in the first round, especially high, before 2011, the contracts were so crazy, that owners would be livid if the QB didn’t work out, after writing such a big check, and might fire the GM.

Now, it’s not as painful.

Obviously The Brothers Johnson expect Wilson to work out, but if he doesn’t, I don’t think Big Joe is getting bounced.

I’m not going to lie, I’m fascinated to see if Wilson works out. It’s going to be great theatre seeing what he does this year.

And while the Jets would love for him to enter that Brady-Rodgers-Mahomes-Allen-Wilson-Burrow tier, they wouldn’t be devastated if he lands in the second tier, that Stafford-level, where you can win with the signal-caller if you put a good team around him.

April 11, 2022

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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