4-Down Territory: Fixing Russell Wilson, Jets QBs, Jacoby Brissett’s and Aaron Rodgers’ futures

Every week in “4-Down Territory,” Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar and Luke Easterling of Bucs Wire and Draft Wire go over the things you need to know about, and the things you need to watch, in the NFL right now. With Week 12 of the 2022 NFL season in the books, there was a lot to cover!

This week, Doug and Luke discuss:

  1. How to fix Russell Wilson, if Russell Wilson is fixable at this point;

  2. Whether the Jets need to reset their idea of a franchise quarterback;

  3. Why Jacoby Brissett should be a starter somewhere in the NFL; and

  4. Whither Aaron Rodgers in 2023 and beyond?

You can watch this week’s episode of “4-Down Territory” right here:

How to fix Russell Wilson... if he can be fixed.

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

Frustration has finally spilled over in the case of one Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. Wilson had another horrible game in Denver’s 23-10 loss to the equally hopeless Carolina Panthers, and at one point in the game, defensive tackle Mike Purcell came over to Wilson on the sideline and just eviscerated him. We imagine that Purcell is not the only Broncos defender who feels the way Purcell does. There’s no question that the Broncos need to move on from head coach Nathaniel Hackett as quickly as possible, but how do they fix Wilson? Because here’s the thing: The five-year, $245 million contract extension they gave him after the trade from Seattle has them in dead cap hell until at least 2026.

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Doug: I think the only hope for the Broncos and their new ownership group is to replace Hackett with a head coach who a. Has a successful offensive background, and b. Will coach Wilson as hard as he needs to be coached. One reason Wilson found Denver so appealing was that Hackett wasn’t going to challenge him, and Wilson clearly needs to be challenged. Ponying up for someone like Sean Payton, who has the credibility to get Wilson to listen to him, and a history of designing great offenses, should be Priority One for the Broncos this upcoming offseason.  

Luke: I like the idea of Payton, but after the haul that Denver had to give up for Wilson, what do they have left to trade to the Saints, who still hold Payton’s rights for the 2023 season? I think the Saints would obviously prefer to let him go somewhere outside the NFC, but I’m not sure that’ll bring their asking price down much, if at all. That still might be the quickest, and maybe the only fix for this situation, but it’ll cost the Broncos more draft picks they really need.

Should the Jets move on from Zach Wilson?

(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Speaking of quarterbacks, Mike White of the New York Jets looked pretty good in his team’s 31-10 win over the Chicago Bears. As head coach Robert Saleh said, White “made the easy things look easy.” Quite a relief after Zach Wilson had the yips to the point where he couldn’t even complete a screen pass. The question is not whether Wilson will see the field this season – the question now is whether the Jets should move on entirely from the 2021 second overall pick and just start over. 

Doug: Remember when the Arizona Cardinals selected Josh Rosen with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft and came back to select Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in 2019? Not that Murray has been the franchise guy the Cardinals hoped he would be, but it’s not impossible for an organization to just decide that a highly-drafted quarterback isn’t worth it. The only possible sticking point is that Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas were responsible for selecting Wilson, and Rosen was out the second the Cards hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their head coach. Kingsbury wanted Murray, and everybody knew it. But I don’t think there’s any question that the Jets should move past the sunk cost fallacy and focus on their next franchise quarterback in free agency or the draft. 

Luke: Yeah, their only hope at this point should be to try and get another team to send them a pick for Wilson, who still has two years left on his rookie deal, plus a fifth-year option. It’s always possible that another team will bank on Wilson’s arm talent and upside, convincing themselves that a change of scenery could help unlock his potential. That’s a dangerous gamble that has cost many teams in the past (the Jets are that team right now, obviously), but like we said last week on this show, Wilson’s clearly not the guy for the Jets. They need to look elsewhere this offseason, regardless of whether or not they can get anything of value in return for Wilson.

Jacoby Brissett has earned a starting spot somewhere.

(Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Now that Deshaun Watson has been cleared from his suspension for multiple alleged sexual assaults, he will be the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback. Whatever we may feel about that, there’s allo the matter of Jacoby Brissett, who has played at a level we’ve never seen from him – and he’s been in the league since 2016. This season, we’ve seen Geno Smith come out of nowhere to be a top-10 quarterback after years of disappearing acts. Can Brissett be that guy for another team in 2023 and beyond? 

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Doug: I think he can. As we speak, Brissett is a top 10 quarterback in both DVOA and DYAR, and he’s eliminated the one problem I think has held him back – he had always been too deliberate with the ball, and that put him in some bad situations as far as reading progressions and throwing with anticipation. This season, he’s been much more willing to grip it and rip it, which is kind of what happened to Smith in Seattle. He’s with a team that believes in him, and if there’s one thing we know about Brissett, it’s that his teammates LOVE his production and leadership. Brissett deserves better than he’s getting in this case, and I think he’ll get that opportunity as a free agent in the new league year. 

Luke: After Sunday’s overtime win against the Bucs, why wouldn’t Tampa Bay want him? Tom Brady’s not under contract next year, and they’ll still have enough pieces in place to challenge for a division title in the weak NFC South. The Bucs have some salary cap issues to figure out, but if the price is right, Brissett might be exactly what they need to stay competitive for the next few seasons. Tampa Bay won’t be the only team who looks at Brissett and sees a quarterback who can win them games, either.

Should the Packers float the idea that Aaron Rodgers is available?

(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

On Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers fell to 4-8 after a 40-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Late in the game, Aaron Rodgers was replaced by Jordan Love due to Rodgers’ injuries. Which made us think – Rodgers signed a three year, $150 million contract in March, but the Packers only have Love under club control for one more season, unless they pick up his fifth-year option. Is it time for the Packers to see what they could get in a trade for Rodgers, and if so, which team would provide the best landing spot? 

Doug: The first thing the Packers need to do is to find themselves a new defensive coordinator. The second thing they should do is to float the idea that Rodgers would be available for the right price. And I think the most obvious good fit would be the Las Vegas Raiders. I don’t think that Josh McDaniels is all in on Derek Carr, who could be moved in a deal. Such a trade would reunite Rodgers with Davante Adams, and Rodgers would certainly have more weapons in Las Vegas than he does in Green Bay. Rodgers has been playing through injuries all season, so I don’t think what we’ve seen from him of late is representative of what he has left in the tank, and McDaniels is used to dealing with driven, high-profile quarterbacks from his years with Tom Brady. I’m not saying the Packers SHOULD trade Rodgers, but if they do, they’d better get a mega-haul for him. 

Luke: After our conversation earlier, it’s hard not to wonder if the Jets would be the best place for Rodgers to land. They’ve got a strong defense, tons of young, talented playmakers on offense, and could make enough moves to absorb Rodgers’ contract under the salary cap. Considering how well this team has played this year despite the quarterback situation, I wonder if Rodgers would see a chance to maybe win another ring with what the Jets already have going for them. 

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire