Zach Wilson's rookie deal has Jets QB missing start of training camp

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Zach Wilson on field no helmet Jets OTAs June 2021
Zach Wilson on field no helmet Jets OTAs June 2021

The Jets reported for training camp on Tuesday morning. But the most important Jet did not.

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the centerpiece of the Jets’ future, remains one of three first-round picks who still hasn’t signed his rookie contract. There is still time before the first practice of camp on Wednesday morning, but there has been no indication that a deal is near.

Things can move quickly with rookie contracts, though, especially since most of the terms are pre-determined. As the second overall pick, Wilson is slotted to receive a four-year, $35.2 million contract that is fully guaranteed and includes a signing bonus of $22.9 million and a fifth-year team option. Those terms are non-negotiable.

But there are issues that can hold up deals, as the Jets found out three years ago when Sam Darnold missed the first three practices of his career before he signed his rookie deal. The hold-up then was about contract language -- specifically about how his signing bonus could be voided if he violated NFL rules -- and the Jets’ insistence on “offset” language, which allows teams to reduce what they owe a player if they cut him and he’s signed by another team.

Sometimes the payment schedule for the signing bonus can cause a snag in negotiations, too, especially if a team wants to defer some of the money. That isn’t believed to be the issue with Wilson, especially since Darnold got his entire $20 million signing bonus within his first month in the NFL.

The specifics of the holdup with Wilson is unknown, but it’s believed to be about “offset” language -- something the Jets historically insist on in their contracts, and something most agents fight against when they feel they have leverage to do so.

And Wilson’s camp does have some leverage. When Darnold held out three years ago, the Jets had veteran quarterbacks Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater on the roster and it wasn’t a lock that Darnold would be the Week 1 starter. This year, Wilson has no such competition. The only other Jets quarterbacks on the team are untested and inexperienced -- Mike White and James Morgan. And though the Jets won’t say it publicly, there is little doubt they play to make Wilson the unquestioned starter from the moment he sets foot in Florham Park.

Because of that, it’s doubtful the Jets will let this linger for long. Wilson needs every rep he can get to prepare for the opener. And new Jets head coach Robert Saleh won’t want to go through too many practices with Morgan or White running the offense.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting