Garrett Wilson has two 1,000-yard seasons on losing teams

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson is one of 15 players with 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, but he's the only one in the NFL to do it on two losing teams.

The latter number could increase to four by the end of the final weekend, but the point is clear: Wilson, known for his separation ability, has proven he can shake free from the team's struggles. But it can be emotionally taxing, evidenced by the anguish he conveys after each loss.

Wilson will finish his second season on Sunday against the New England Patriots, and he has had seven quarterbacks, two offensive coordinators, two position coaches and two offensive systems. There's a segment of the fan base that believes his talent is being wasted on such a lowly offensive team, so it's fair to wonder if Wilson sees himself as part of the Jets' long-term plan.

"I don't know what the future holds," Wilson told ESPN. "I know I'm here for four or five years and I'm going to do my part to try and make this thing turn over as far as what it's been up to this point. We have to fix it. We have to play better. We have to win games. We have to do a lot of things better, and I'm a main proponent of that. I've got to do my part."

"Four or five years" is, of course, a reference to his contract. Wilson has two years remaining on his rookie deal, plus a fifth-year option that almost certainly will be exercised for 2026. He doesn't sound like he's looking to get out of town any time soon. At the same time, he stopped short of saying he wants to finish his career with the team that drafted him.

Former Jets receivers Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims requested trades and got shipped out after two seasons, though neither was valued by the organization as much as Wilson. He's one of their homegrown foundational players, along with running back Breece Hall on offense.

Wilson is the first Jets receiver since Keyshawn Johnson (1998-1999) to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. It's worth noting Johnson was traded after the 1999 season. Three years later, Laveranues Coles went for 1,264 yards ... and they let him get away in free agency. In 2005, they traded Santana Moss despite averaging 972 yards in his final two seasons.

Ancient history, right? Well, yes, but the Jets don't have a strong track record for retaining star players. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who signed a four-year, $96 million extension last July, was the first big "keeper" in several years.

Teammate C.J. Mosley admitted he's concerned about Wilson losing patience to the point where he wants to play elsewhere. "I mean, that's a real thing, so it's definitely not a 'no' answer," Mosley, a captain, told ESPN. "Can it happen? Yes, but do I think it will? That depends on the people in this room, in this building.

"I feel like he does a great job of being a man, on and off the field. The way the season's been going, he probably would say it was a disappointing year in his eyes. Anybody can easily jump off the bandwagon, but we've never really seen him act that way, even when times have been rough for him. So, as a teammate, as a man, I respect him for that."

The Jets (6-10) are ranked 29th in scoring and could finish 32nd in total yards. Going into Week 18, they're one yard ahead of the Carolina Panthers. Wilson is frustrated by the lack of team success. Individually, he can't complain about targets (he has 162, third in the league), but he ranks 121st in reception rate (57.4%) out of 134 qualified players.

Those numbers aren't higher because of the struggles at quarterback and perhaps schematic issues with the offense. Wilson's "open" score ranks 10th among all wideouts, according to a tracking system devised by ESPN analytics. The return of a healthy Aaron Rodgers in 2024 certainly should help.

"Yeah, for sure," Wilson said. "For sure."

The front office can help in the offseason by acquiring another top-shelf receiver, someone to take pressure off Wilson and draw coverage to the other side. Allen Lazard was supposed to be that guy after signing a four-year, $44 million contract in free agency, but he hasn't come close to meeting expectations (23 catches).

Wilson is part of a small fraternity -- a 1,000-yard receiver on a losing team. Two years in a row. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans and the New Orleans Saints' Chris Olave will join Wilson in that category if their teams lose the final game. Ditto, the Bucs' Chris Godwin (973 yards). Wilson said it was "special" to hit the 1,000 mark again, but he obviously wants to achieve team goals before his career is over. Will it happen in New York?

"I don't know what the future holds," he reiterated. "My No. 1 focus is being the best version of me and finding a way to make this organization and make this team be proud of the person they drafted. And, hopefully, we can win some games."