Apr 26, 2023; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left) and head coach Robert Saleh (right) smile during the introductory press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Jets’ Robert Saleh calls talk of Aaron Rodgers’ wish list ‘tired’ narrative

Calling it a “silly” and “tired” narrative, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh is trying to discourage talk of the franchise trying to fulfill a “wish list” of new quarterback Aaron Rodgers by signing some of his former teammates.

Speaking as the Jets began rookie minicamp on Friday in Florham Park, N.J., Saleh called it “very common for new faces to want old faces to come in and help accelerate the installation of an entire program. Everything is pinned on the quarterback. It’s not just him.”

As the Jets worked to acquire Rodgers, a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player who led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 2011, they have also picked up four players from his past, all on offense. The list includes receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, tackle Billy Turner and quarterback Tim Boyle.

Talk of Rodgers having a preferred list of teammates began with a report two months ago when he acknowledged discussing his favorite players with Jets executives.

That doesn’t mean these player additions are just for Rodgers, however, according to Saleh, who specifically mentioned offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

“Hackett has something to say about it. He loves Lazard. He loves Randall. He took Billy Turner with him to Denver, and he wanted him here. Of course, you’re going to surround a coach with people who he feels like will plant the flag,” Saleh said.

“That whole narrative — what people are trying to put on the quarterback — it’s tired. It’s common practice in the NFL.”

New York started 6-3 last season before going 1-7 the rest of the way to finish 7-10 and last in the AFC East.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after rushing for a first down during the fourth quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

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Jets coach ‘confident’ team will acquire Aaron Rodgers

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh said he believes four-time Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers will be his quarterback in 2023.

While Rodgers has said he wants to play for the Jets in the upcoming season, the team and Green Bay Packers have yet to come to trade terms. Saleh told reporters Monday at the league owners meeting in Phoenix that he is “confident” a trade will happen.

“I’m not hitting the panic button,” said Saleh, who didn’t state Rodgers’ name because of league tampering rules but made it clear who he was talking about.

He added: “I’m confident that things are going to work out. You guys know me. I’m a very positive person and optimistic, so I’m confident that things will go the way we’re hoping. But at the same time, it’s not going to eat at me.”

Saleh also said he’d like to pair free agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

ESPN reported Monday that the Packers want compensation for Rodgers that includes the Jets’ first-round draft pick, No. 13 overall, but the Jets are balking at the request.

While it would be beneficial for Rodgers and the Jets for him to be on board when the offseason program begins in mid-April, Saleh implied he isn’t in a hurry because of Rodgers’ familiarity with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who held that job in Green Bay for three seasons.

“If there’s a great rapport with the coordinator, there’s really no urgency,” Saleh said. “The quarterback, if he understands the system, if the quarterback knows it, it’s just a matter of just refining skills and doing all that stuff. So, there’s no hurry.”

Speaking of Beckham, Saleh said the Jets are intrigued by the 30-year-old veteran.

“He’s been a fantastic receiver in this league,” Saleh said. “Everything you hear about him, he’s a phenomenal person. That’s something you’re always going to look over, turn over every stone, cross your Ts, dot your Is, just make sure you’re, you’re not missing an opportunity to add a great player. And there’s no guarantee anything will happen.”

–Field Level Media

New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, left, head coach Robert Saleh and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) participate in training camp Wednesday.

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Jets’ Robert Saleh: Aaron Rodgers’ interest ‘pretty cool’

Jets coach Robert Saleh called quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ interest in playing for New York “pretty cool” during an interview Sunday with NFL Network.

“Two years ago when we first got here, just thinking about where we were and how far we’ve come,” Saleh said. “To have a guy like him want to play for us is pretty cool and shows how far we’ve come. But we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

Some of that work includes officially acquiring Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.

Earlier this month, the four-time NFL MVP said he intended to play for the Jets in 2023.

“The Packers would like to move on. They’ve let me know that in so many words, they’ve let other people know that in direct words,” Rodgers said during a March 15 appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

“And because I still have that fire and I want to play, I’d like to play in New York. It’s just a matter of getting that done at this point.”

Rodgers, 39, signed a three-year, $150.815 million contract extension in March 2022. He is set to make $59.5 million in 2023.

Rodgers was named league MVP in 2011, 2014, 2020 and 2021, but is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in 2022. He completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as the Packers (8-9) missed the playoffs.

There are familiar faces waiting for him in New York. The Jets signed former Packers receiver Allen Lazard to a reported four-year, $44 million deal earlier this month, and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett held the same position in Green Bay from 2019-21.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) on the field against the New England Patriots in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jets elevate Zach Wilson to No. 2 QB against Lions

The New York Jets are elevating Zach Wilson to the No. 2 quarterback for Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Lions.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, started seven games after his return from injury in Week 4. But he struggled and was dropped to the No. 3 spot, behind Mike White and veteran Joe Flacco.

He has been inactive the past three games, with coach Robert Saleh deciding that watching from the sidelines could help Wilson.

Saleh told reporters on Wednesday that Wilson has earned the chance.

“Zach’s been doing a great job,” Saleh said. “He has been deliberate in his approach over the last three weeks. He’s been holding himself accountable with regards to how he wants that to attack practice, how he’s been performing in practice, going against our defense — which I think is a pretty good defense to go against –and working on all the different things that we’ve been asking him to accomplish.”

The move is significant for Wilson, given White sustained a rib injury in last week’s 20-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Saleh said White would be limited in practice on Wednesday.

In brief relief of White against the Bills, Flacco completed one of three pass attempts for just one yard. He was sacked once for a six-yard loss.

On the season, Wilson is 5-2 in his seven starts. He has completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 1,279 yards, with four touchdown passes and five interceptions.

The Jets are 1-2 with White as the starter following the loss to the Bills and 27-22 defeat against the Minnesota Vikings. In his three starts, White has thrown for 952 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; East Rutherford, N.J.,USA;  
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh in the first half against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Jets coach Robert Saleh clears COVID protocols

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh returned to work Wednesday after clearing COVID-19 protocols.

“It’s like the first day of school,” Saleh told reporters. “I’m ready to go another 18 weeks.”

Saleh, 42, tested positive on Dec. 22 and missed the Jets’ 26-21 defeat of the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.

The first-year head coach wasn’t alone in rejoining New York (4-11) as it prepares for Sunday’s visit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4).

Saleh said quarterback Joe Flacco, tight end Kenny Yeboah, cornerbacks Michael Carter II and Lamar Jackson, linebackers Noah Dawkins and Hamsah Nasirildeen and defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi have also cleared the league’s health and safety protocols.

Several other players could also return soon from the COVID list, Saleh said. That includes wideout Vyncint Smith, safety Ashtyn Davis, offensive linemen Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Alijah Vera-Tucker, and defensive linemen John Franklin-Myers and Hamilcar Rashed.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh walks on the sideline during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jets coach Robert Saleh tests positive for COVID-19

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The Jets said Saleh has symptoms, however he can return Thursday if he clears protocols.

Tight ends coach Ron Middleton was expected to guide the team through Wednesday’s practice. He would also coach the Jets (3-11) in Sunday’s game against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) if Saleh is unable to do so.

Saleh, 42, is in his first season as head coach of the Jets. He previously served as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in the previous four seasons (2017-20).

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jets, Panthers have QBs in the spotlight for opener

Sam Darnold has been upstaged at times during his NFL career.

The new quarterback for the Carolina Panthers might be falling into that category again going into the season opener against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

That’s because Darnold’s replacement with the Jets is Zach Wilson, who’ll make his pro debut after being selected No. 2 overall in the 2021 draft.

The Panthers acquired Darnold, who played his first three seasons with the Jets, during an offseason move. That resulted in the departure of Teddy Bridgewater, who spent one season with Carolina.

“With Sam, it’s a new beginning,” said Panthers receiver Robby Anderson, a sixth-year pro who spent his first four seasons with the Jets. “Lots of time, new beginnings is what a lot of us need. Turning that page to a new chapter.”

For Wilson, it might be even more special as he makes the leap from BYU to Jets starter as one of the team’s captains.

“For Zach, it’s about him and his process and it’s about him getting ready to play the best he possibly can,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said, noting this shouldn’t be a case of judging Wilson vs. Darnold.

There’s plenty new in this matchup.

Saleh makes his NFL coaching debut with the Jets after arriving from the San Francisco 49ers staff.

“I’m sure I’ll be as amped up as all heck on Sunday,” said Saleh, who was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator.

Matt Rhule is in his second season with Carolina after a 5-11 record in 2020, and, with the Jets’ new coaching staff and rookie QB, he’s facing a challenge.

“We have to prepare for everything right now,” Rhule said. “We’re preparing for a lot of different looks, a lot of different personnel. There are just so many unknowns.”

Even with the attention Wilson is receiving, the Jets could be stout on the other side despite a young defensive backfield.

“They are put together really well defensively,” Rhule said.

With a more conventional offseason, the Panthers should be much more comfortable in establishing what they want to do going into this season.

“It’s night and day from last year,” Rhule said. “We have a much more collective sense of how we want to win, how we want to do things. I think we’re way farther ahead. How much that is, we’ll see on Sunday.”

It’s also the return in many ways of versatile Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who was one of the most productive players in the league in 2019. Last season, he appeared in just three games because of injuries. McCaffrey racked up 97 yards of total offense against the Jets as a rookie in 2017.

“To have him, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” Rhule said. “We’re excited to get him back involved.”

The Panthers also have turned to Ryan Santoso, a former New York Giant, as the kicker, replacing Joey Slye, who became too inconsistent to keep.

The Jets are waiting on word regarding the status of receiver Jamison Crowder, who remained in COVID protocol Wednesday.

With all the roster adjustments for both teams, it’s time to see how they stack up.

“It’s the real season now, real games,” Anderson said. “Play time is over with.”

The Panthers are 4-3 all-time against the Jets, winning three of four home games. Carolina’s first victory in franchise history came against the Jets in its first season in 1995 when home games were played in Clemson, S.C.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (82) carries the ball aLos Angeles Rams in the third quarter at SoFi Stadium. The Jets defeated the Rams 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jets’ Jamison Crowder missing workouts amid contract talks

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder could be an integral part of the team’s offense — if he is with the team in Week 1.

For now, Crowder is not reporting to organized team activities because of contract negotiations.

In 2020, Crowder caught a team-leading 59 passes for 699 yards and six touchdowns, playing in 12 games (seven starts). In 2019, he played all 16 games (12 starts), putting up 833 receiving yards and six touchdowns, again leading the team in receptions with 78.

He has one year left on his current deal, which would bring a $10 million base salary, but the 2021 season is not guaranteed.

Crowder, a fourth-round pick by Washington in 2015, turns 28 on June 17.

First-year Jets coach Robert Saleh said Crowder would be on the roster this fall.

“[We’re] really confident to get Jamison here quickly,” Saleh told reporters on Friday. “When we do, he definitely has a role on this team.”

The Jets beefed up the receivers’ room during the offseason, signing Corey Davis (three years, $37.5 million) and Keelan Cole (one year, $5 million) and drafting Elijah Moore with the 34th overall selection.

First-round pick Zach Wilson (No. 2 overall) is expected to win the starting quarterback job during training camp.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jets hire 49ers DC Robert Saleh as head coach

Robert Saleh, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator since 2017, agreed in principle to become the head coach of the New York Jets, the team announced Thursday night.

He replaces Adam Gase, who was fired hours after a loss to the New England Patriots in Week 17 that concluded his two seasons in which the team went 9-23, including 2-14 in 2020.

San Francisco fielded a top-10 defense in total yards (fifth), rush yards (seventh) and pass yards (fourth) under Saleh’s leadership last year. In 2019, the 49ers were second overall in the league in total defense (281.8 yards per game) and first in pass defense, as its 169.2 per-game average was the league’s best since the Jets’ allowed an average of 153.7 through the air per game in 2009.

Saleh, 41, interviewed with the Jets twice, with the second one occurring Tuesday and Wednesday. Saleh met with every team that had a head-coach opening except the Houston Texans, according to the New York Post.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with people if they don’t hire him,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said recently of Saleh. “I mean, he’s as good as you can get. … And he’s going to hire the best staff. He knows about players. He knows who knows what they’re talking about … and he also knows how to deal with people. So, I hope everyone’s not very smart and doesn’t hire him so I can keep him. But I’m expecting not to have him.”

The Jets interviewed Saleh and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in person and conducted virtual interviews with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and New Orleans Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn.

Saleh will become the 20th head coach of the Jets, who have the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Jets, who lost a franchise-record 13 consecutive games to open the 2020 season, have gone five years without a winning record. They last made the playoffs in 2010.

The Jets simply weren’t been competitive under Gase, as 15 of the team’s 23 losses under his watch were by double digits. This season, they were outscored by 214 points.

The New York offense ranked last in yards per game in each of the past two seasons. The Jets scored 243 points this season, 37 fewer than the next-worst team, the New York Giants.

Saleh was the linebackers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2014-16 after serving as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive quality control coach from 2011-13.

Saleh also served as an assistant coach with the Houston Texans from 2005-10 after college stints at Michigan State, Central Michigan and Georgia.

–Field Level Media