Rick Spielman knows a thing or two about losing a starting quarterback at the start of a promising season. Seven years after Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury prompted the Vikings to trade for Sam Bradford, the former general manager feels for the Jets in the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ abrupt exit. And he believes any potential QB addition for New York must have one specific trait.
“The No. 1 priority for me,” Spielman said on CBS Sports’ “With the First Pick” podcast, “is that quarterback better have some mobility. Because a quarterback that is gonna be … with those offensive tackles (is) gonna have some issues.”
Spielman is referring to the Jets’ makeshift offensive line, which allowed heavy pressure on each of Rodgers’ first drop-backs as the Jets’ QB against the Bills. Even though he’d long maintained concerns about Rodgers’ protection, Spielman told Ryan Wilson that he has sympathy for New York management, which had gone all-in to contend for a title with the ex-Packers star.
“I wish I could put into words the sick feeling you have in your gut and the tingling that goes through your body,” Spielman said, “after you just spent the whole offseason building this roster up, making the trade for Aaron Rodgers, (and) everything’s in place to make a Super Bowl run, and within four plays, it just vanishes.”
How, exactly, will the Jets identify an emergency QB — and a mobile one, at that — to plug in alongside new No. 1 Zach Wilson?
“You’re gonna go down through teams’ practice squads,” he said. “You’re gonna go through potential trades. … But to me, it’s quite evident that whoever you go after … Zach Wilson is gonna have to be (your) starting quarterback moving forward.”
Why? Because Wilson knows the system. And anyone who joins the QB room in the coming days or weeks will need time to get up to speed — even logical veteran targets like current Eagles backup Marcus Mariota, whom Spielman floated as a possibility. Whereas Bradford stepped in as an immediate starter for Spielman’s Vikings back in 2016, the Jets have a former No. 2 overall pick in Wilson who’s already had two-plus years in the organization, giving him a slight edge over just about any possible addition.
That said, Spielman believes an addition of some kind is inevitable.
“If you were, say, for example, the Arizona Cardinals, you may not be as aggressive,” he said, “because their roster may not be in the same place.”