Sources: Jets comfortable with lack of veteran backup behind Zach Wilson

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Mike White Zach Wilson in camp
Mike White Zach Wilson in camp

The Jets have insisted all along that they are comfortable with an inexperienced quarterback room, without a single player who has thrown an NFL regular season pass. And that’s exactly what they’re left with after NFL cut-down day.

At least “for now.”

That’s what one NFL source said after the Jets released their only experienced backup on Tuesday, when they cut veteran Josh Johnson. That left them with Mike White and James Morgan to back up rookie starter Zach Wilson (Morgan was later cut, but is a candidate to land back on the practice squad).

The source said the Jets are content to go into the season with that group, believing that Wilson doesn’t necessarily need a veteran mentor and that White is capable if they need him to play. But they will continue to keep their eyes open for better options if any become available. An upgrade is “not a priority,” though, according to that source, but it remains a possibility down the line.

Going with three inexperienced quarterbacks is, of course, a risk, but one the Jets have been flirting with all offseason long. They once toyed with the idea of keeping Sam Darnold around as a veteran backup to Wilson before they traded him to the Carolina Panthers. And they brought in free agent Brian Hoyer for a visit, before he signed with the New England Patriots instead.

But for the rest of the offseason they’ve seemed content with their status quo. They had internal discussions about, but showed no real interest in former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, according to a source – both when he was a free agent initially and again when he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

And despite widespread speculation that they’d be interested in Nick Foles, who was once with Jets GM Joe Douglas in Philadelphia and is now a seemingly an expendable part in Chicago, there’s been no indication the Jets have made any moves there.

The initial explanation was that they wanted their young quarterbacks to get all of the reps in the spring and most of them in the summer. When they signed Johnson in early August, though, it seemed like they had changed their minds. But apparently not, and even Johnson’s good performance in the preseason finale – 7-of-8, 73 yards and a touchdown – wasn’t enough to sway them.

So now if Wilson gets injured – or even just gets overwhelmed and needs a break – it appears that White, a 26-year-old former fifth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys (2018), would be the first man in. The Jets learned a terrible lesson in 2019 about having green backup quarterbacks when they were forced to use the completely unprepared Luke Falk for two games because of injuries. But they do see White as a much better option than that.

Whether they stick with him all season, or in the event of a long-term absence by Wilson, remains to be seen. They could certainly still add a veteran quarterback -- someone like Hoyer who was released by the Patriots on Tuesday night. But for now, the Jets are OK with a quarterback room that is very, very green.