For the second straight season, Mike White spent most of the year as the Jets’ number three quarterback, but when called upon to start in the middle of the year, he had a positive impact. White’s performance against the Chicago Bears revitalized a struggling Jets offense and got their postseason chase back on track. However, it would be their last win of the season as White only lasted two more games before getting hurt and then struggling in his return.
The general consensus on White is that he’s proven to be someone who can fill in if there’s an emergency but is not widely viewed as a viable long-term starting option at this stage of his career. White is out of contract for the Jets, who will be seeking a new starter during the offseason but must also consider the backup role.
So, should the Jets bring White back?
Why White should be back
The Jets have the inside track on any negotiation with White and could potentially lock him up before he even hits the open market. Earlier this week, it was reported that there is mutual interest between the player and team in him returning.
White is very popular among his teammates on the Jets, more even than the starter Zach Wilson has been. Returning to a group with players he has a good relationship and some on-field chemistry with should be a positive thing for the locker room and in practice.
Unlike some former starters who might be targeted for a backup role, White is realistic about his standing in the NFL and will accept a backup role if that’s his fate. He should be a good mentor for any young quarterback they bring in and would help a veteran starter to get acclimatized, as opposed to being disgruntled because he isn’t getting any opportunities to play.
Why White shouldn’t be back
One factor that could prevent White’s return is the cost of bringing him back. If the Jets are going to shell out for a big-name quarterback, as well as addressing other needs in free agency, there might not be enough money available to offer even a reasonable backup deal to a player like White. This is especially true if they intend to retain Wilson as the team has been suggesting. Wilson is due to earn $20 million over the next two years and there has to be a limit to how much the Jets can invest into one position, especially on players who may not contribute much during the season.
Another factor is the recent changes that have been made to the offensive coaching staff. If the Jets bring in a coach who will operate a different system then part of the main advantage to bringing White back over someone else will be lost. Conversely, if they bring someone in who will be running the same system then this should give White the edge over some other potential backup candidates.
While he has played well overall when given the opportunity, White’s limitations are clear. He isn’t very mobile, doesn’t throw well on the move and has some durability issues. All of these factors limit his upside and could make him less attractive than a backup quarterback with more development potential around whom you can create a more dynamic offense.
The final reason he might not be back is that he could be in demand from some other teams. Again, this isn’t likely to be as a potential starter but anyone on the lookout for a viable and affordable backup option could make a play for him and price the Jets out of the market.
After his first few starts in 2022, White had a chance to prove himself as a viable starting option for 2023 and beyond. Unfortunately, he failed to do that as he struggled to stay on the field and did not play well in his return from injury.
Had he stayed healthy and played well down the stretch, the Jets would be in the playoffs right now and White would have a shot at being their starter in 2023, or in demand from other teams looking for a potential starter option. However, his limited upside and concerns over his durability should make him a more affordable backup option instead.
Whether or not the Jets are the team that will sign him will probably depend on who they bring in to be their starter in 2023. They may decide to wait until that situation is resolved before dealing with White’s status.