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The New York Jets added some muscle to their offense this off-season.
Not only by signing veteran free-agent left guard Laken Tomlinson and by selecting 6-6, 307-pound Louisiana tackle Max Mitchell in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. They also brought back a more muscular Zach Wilson, who decided to eat healthier and put on some muscle mass during the off-season to better withstand the rigors of the 17-game NFL season.
“I think it was the first time in my life,” the second-year quarterback said recently, “I’ve taken a bigger approach on the nutrition side of it rather than just the lifting.”
Wilson estimated that he ended his rookie season at approximately 208 pounds and is currently up to 221. He said his goal is to play at 218 pounds.
Wilson said he already notices a difference. The Jets held their first of three weeks of voluntary practices last week.
“The energy, the ability to have that stamina throughout the whole practice, I think, is better,” he said. “I just think in the long run, once we get in a game where we’re actually getting hit and tackled, having some more size on me would help.”
Wilson sat out four games last season after suffering a knee injury from a hit at New England.
“I just feel like I’m a better athlete with more weight on for some reason,” he said.
“He’s definitely hit the weight room,” head coach Robert Saleh said. “(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 and all that stuff.”
This certainly is a positive. It shows that Wilson is willing to take the onus on himself to make improvements that will help him play better in the long run. In this case, the goal is to increase his stamina and make him less susceptible to injury when he journeys outside the pocket.
Still, it has little to with the main areas in which he must improve, accuracy, decision-making and complete grasp of the playbook, as I discussed here. He believes he is more comfortable in the offense as he continues his second spring as a pro.
“I feel like I’m more comfortable,” he said. “I wouldn’t say, extremely sharper is the right word, I would just say you’re comfortable, your understanding of what things you need to think about, what things you don’t need to think about. You’re just more efficient within your thoughts. Being able to simplify the game, I just feel like you can see more by seeing less, if that makes any sense.”
As an offense, he added, “We just feel more confident together and we’re really just trying to take that offensive step to the next level, and I think everybody in general feels more comfortable. The coaches feel more comfortable putting a little bit more on us as well.”
Of course, every quarterback and every team’s offensive cast of players feels that way in the spring. The real test won’t come until Sept. 11 against visiting Baltimore.
Salary-cap update: After claiming Philadelphia veteran Nate Herbig on waivers earlier this month, the Jets cut veteran Greg Van Roten. Herbig’s cap figure is $2.433 million, per overthecap.com. Thus the Jets saved just under $1.1 million by parting ways with Van Roten, who lost his starting job last November. He would’ve counted as $3.5 million.
Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert, the team’s third-round draft pick, signed recently for $5.044 million over four years with $849,020 fully guaranteed. His 2022 cap figure is $917,255. Mitchell and second-rounder Breece Hall, the two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year at Iowa State, are New York’s only unsigned draft picks.
According to Over The Cap, the Jets have $8.872 million of cap space. Baylor safety Jalen Pitre already has signed his rookie deal with Houston, and he was selected one spot below Hall, at No. 37. Pitre’s 2022 salary-cap number is $1.628, and thus Hall’s should come in slightly higher, of course.