New Broncos QB Zach Wilson said trade from Jets was “bittersweet,” but “a fresh start is good” after tumultuous first three seasons

New Broncos QB Zach Wilson said trade from Jets was “bittersweet,” but “a fresh start is good” after tumultuous first three seasons

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Zach Wilson’s second act has begun.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft is off and running with the Broncos and now, like the rest of his teammates, is through the first week of organized team activities.

Wilson will compete for Denver’s starting job with Jarrett Stidham and first-round draft pick Bo Nix, but in his first chat with reporters since getting traded here last month, he expressed excitement about having a chance to re-set his career.

“I feel like you learn the most when things don’t always go the best,” Wilson said on a sun-splashed Front Range afternoon. “So you bank those reps, you learn from them and three years of things being challenging you can learn a lot of things.

“Hopefully I can carry those with me.”

Things didn’t go the best in New York for Wilson. The BYU product went 3-10 as a rookie in 2021 after being picked after only Trevor Lawrence three years ago. In 2022 the Jets went 5-4 in his nine starts, but did so largely thanks to a dominant defense and in spite of Wilson’s 54.5% completion rate and issues with turnovers and sacks.

Last year was supposed to be a re-set for him with the Jets after the franchise acquired Aaron Rodgers via trade, but instead Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon four snaps into the season. Wilson was thrust back into the spotlight, later benched and then put back in the lineup down the stretch of the season.

Then in April the Jets traded him and a seventh-round pick to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick.

“Obviously there’s bittersweet moments in everything,” Wilson said of the trade. “I was grateful for my experiences there. And the guys. I miss the guys out there and everything, too.

“But at the same time a fresh start is good. I’m excited to attack a new challenge.”

Wilson had Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator in 2021-22 and then former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett last year.

He said Thursday he’s excited to learn from and play for Sean Payton, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, quarterbacks coach Davis Webb and the rest of the Denver offensive coaching staff.

“Obviously (Payton’s) done a phenomenal job for as long as I can remember,” Wilson said. “I loved watching Drew (Brees) back in the day and just the efficiency he played with, how consistent it was, how explosive they were as an offense and just taking what the defense gives you.”

The real test for Wilson won’t come until the grind of training camp and, really, for a guy who has always impressed with his natural talent and throwing ability, until he’s exposed to game action.

So far, though, so good for Wilson in his new home.

“It’s a beautiful place, awesome staff, awesome everything,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it.”

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