This is one in a series of articles that will also appear in the New York Jets 2022 Yearbook, which will be published later this summer.
Zach Wilson is no longer a rookie quarterback. After an offseason that included work travel to Tennessee, South Florida and Arizona, the now-22-year-old returned to One Jets Drive this spring with a different mindset.
"My guy came back with a little more swag," tackle George Fant said. "He's ready to go, man."
After his first professional season ended in January, Wilson didn't wait until voluntary workouts to reunite with his teammates. In March, he threw to WR Corey Davis in Nashville and then headed south to Miami to train with WR Braxton Berrios and RB Michael Carter. He hit the desert for sessions with Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims and Jeff Smith. And the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft filled out in the weight room when he wasn't delivering ropes on his nationwide tour.
"Zach looks good," head coach Robert Saleh said during the second phase of the team's offseason program. "He looks beefy, in a good way. He's definitely filled out. But he's still got all his looseness and he's throwing the football with zip."
Wilson started 13 games last season, accounting for 13 touchdowns (nine passing, four rushing) with 11 interceptions while connecting on 55.6% of his passes. After a knee injury kept him out of the lineup for four games, the BYU product took strides and ended the year without an interception in the Jets' final five games.
"I think Zach's going to have a phenomenal year," C Connor McGovern said. "He has the ability to make that huge play. That's what makes quarterbacks in this league special."
The Jets have put Wilson in a position to succeed. General manager Joe Douglas, who selected RG Alijah-Vera Tucker along with Wilson, Moore and Carter last year, came back this offseason and signed Pro Bowl LG Laken Tomlinson and two veteran TEs in C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. Those additions preceded a draft in which the Jets added two of the country's most explosive playmakers in WR Garrett Wilson and RB Breece Hall.
"I appreciate their confidence in me," said Wilson who will enter training camp backed by Joe Flacco and Mike White. "I think they understand that quarterback efficiency in this league, overall, is how you win games and get explosive on offense. I need to do my part. I need to get better, I need to let the guys around me make the plays they were brought in for. I'm excited we're in that process of building it together and we're all going to ride the wave together as well."