Jets coach Robert Saleh will be front and center during NFL annual meetings this week

ORLANDO — This year’s offseason for the Jets has been vastly different from 12 months ago.

Gang Green was on the cusp of acquiring Aaron Rodgers in a trade with the Packers, and there were high expectations surrounding the team.

A year later, the Jets, particularly coach Robert Saleh, hasn’t spoken to the local media the day after finishing 7-10 for the second consecutive year. That will all change during the NFL Annual Meetings this week.

The AFC coaches will speak on Monday morning, while the NFC coaches will talk to reporters on Tuesday. However, on Sunday, Saleh spoke to NFL Network and appears happy that the spotlight is not on the Jets this offseason.

“I think (general manager) Joe (Douglas) has done a really nice job adding some really cool pieces to the football team, but, yeah, quiet,” Saleh said about the Jets free agent acquisitions. “Last year was a little loud. We welcome a little bit of quietness.”

Saleh’s claim that last season was loud is selling it short. The year was a roller coaster for the Jets.

After they acquired Rodgers last April, many anointed the Jets as Super Bowl contenders. The NFL basically forced the Jets to do ‘Hard Knocks,’ and they also played in the Hall of Fame Game, which means training camp started a week earlier.

All of those high hopes came crashing down when Rodgers tore his Achilles four plays into the Jets’ season opener last September and missed the rest of the year. After a disappointing season, the pressure is on the Jets to win in 2024.

Most coaches speak sporadically during the offseason, either during the combine and/or before free agency. Saleh has been unusually quiet.

Some of that “quietness” could be attributed to the Damming The Athletic article on how the Jets season fell apart, released on Saleh’s 45th birthday. Not after that, Jets owner Woody Johnson told reporters during the NFL Honors Red Carpet that he was“mad” about the Jets’ offensive deficiency.

The Jets and Douglas have worked hard this offseason to improve the team. They signed left tackle Tyron Smith and left guard John Simpson. Gang Green also acquired right tackle Morgan Moses in a trade with the Ravens.

Last week, the Jets also signed former Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams to a one-year contract that could be worth up to $15 million with incentives. Oh yeah, the Jets even added extra insurance in the quarterback room by signing Tyrod Taylor to a two-year contract.

These are some of the topics that will be addressed during Saleh’s 30-minute media session Monday morning. Here are a few other potential questions that could be asked:

Status of Rodgers offseason program

The Jets’ 2024 season hinges on Rodgers and how he performs. Gang Green has gone all in to accommodate Rodgers, hoping to end their long playoff drought (2010).

But what will Rodgers’ status be for the Jets’ offseason workout program?

Teams with returning coaches can begin offseason workout programs on April 15. Since the season’s end, Rodgers has reportedly been back in California rehabbing his Achilles injury.

“He’s doing his rehab,” Saleh said. “He’s out in California, I believe. Obviously he’s taking some time for himself. He was ready to go last year, man.

“I know he’s getting ready. We speak to him often. I don’t want to speak for him, but I am going to speak for him and say that he’s really excited about attacking this season.”

Last year, during the Jets’ offseason program, Rodgers suffered what was called a minor calf injury. Considering he’s 40 and coming off a significant injury, the Jets might decide it wise to take it slow with Rodgers and let Taylor receive a bulk of the offseason workout snaps during the spring.

Zach Wilson update

During the NFL Combine last month, Douglas told reporters he had given Zach Wilson permission to seek a trade. Nearly a month later, it doesn’t appear the Jets are close to trading the former No. 2 overall pick.

Johnson’s comments during NFL Honors certainly didn’t help the Jets with trading to trade Wilson.

“We need a backup quarterback,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have one last year.”

The entire league knows Wilson and the Jets both want to move on.

At this point, the best the Jets might be able to do is trade Wilson for a swap of seventh-round picks. If Gang Green flat out releases Wilson, it would incur an $11.1 million dead cap hit with zero savings. If Wilson is traded, the cap hit shrinks to $5.7 million with $5.5 million in savings.

Feeling pressure?

Johnson didn’t verbally put a playoff mandate on Saleh. But after three consecutive losing seasons, it appears that 2024 will be a make or break for Saleh and potentially Douglas.

The NFL, just like all sports, is a result-based business. Last season, Saleh received a mulligan because of Rodgers’ injury.

The Jets stuck with Wilson for most of the year despite having one of the best defenses in the league for a second straight year. That proved costly, and the Jets missed the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons.

With all the roster changes made in the last two years, 2024 is likely playoffs or bust for the Jets.