September 28, 2021

The Only Football

Get The Latest NFL News And More!

Jets haven’t signed Zach Wilson as training camp…

3 min read
Jets haven't signed Zach Wilson as training camp...

The Jets report to training camp Tuesday and have their first practice on Wednesday, but there could be one missing piece … a big one.

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson remained unsigned on the eve of training camp. It is unclear what the exact issue is causing the holdup, but it surely is a fight over the contract language. Rookie contracts are slotted under the collective bargaining agreement so players can’t hold out for more money like the old days.

Wilson’s four-year contract, when he signs it, will be worth approximately $35.1 million with a $22.9 million signing bonus. A fifth-year team option is standard for first-round picks, as well.

This is not the first time the Jets have had a contract standoff with a rookie quarterback. Sam Darnold missed the first three practices of the 2018 training camp as his agent and the Jets haggled over a few issues with the contract. But that was with a different general manager and lead contract negotiator. Joe Douglas has replaced Mike Maccagnan since then as GM and Dave Socie is now the chief negotiator instead of Jackie Davidson.

Zach Wilson hasn't signed his rookie contract, with training camp set to begin Tuesday.
Zach Wilson hasn’t signed his rookie contract, with training camp set to begin Tuesday.
Bill Kostroun

Wilson is one of three first-round picks from this year’s class who have not signed. Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick by the 49ers, and Rashawn Slater, the No. 13 pick by the Chargers, are also unsigned.

There are a few issues that usually lead to problems. The biggest is offsets in the contract. Put simply, teams want offsets and players do not. An offset allows teams to reduce how much they owe a player if they cut him and he signs with another team. For example, if the Jets owe a player $10 million and cut him and he signs with another team for $8 million, an offset would allow the Jets to owe him only $2 million. If the contract has no offsets, the player collects the full $10 million from the Jets and the $8 million from their new team.

The Jaguars have no offsets in their contract with No. 1-overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville typically does not include offset language in contracts, but Wilson’s agent could point to Lawrence’s deal as a reason Wilson should have no offsets.

Prolonged absences from training camp have become rare over the last 10 years since the change to the way rookie contracts are structured. It would not be a surprise if Wilson and the Jets reach an agreement before the team takes the field for practice Wednesday morning. If they don’t, it will be a big story, though it won’t have any lasting implications unless his absence drags on for days.

Mike White and James Morgan are the only quarterbacks under contract for the Jets. It will be a bit of a letdown if Wilson, who is viewed as their potential franchise quarterback, is absent for the start of practice.

In 2018, Darnold’s representatives had an issue with not just offsets but also language that would allow the Jets to void guaranteed money if he were fined by the NFL. Eventually, the Jets took the language out of the deal. Darnold did agree to have offsets in his deal. There was also a fight over how his signing bonus would be paid. Teams can defer payments. Darnold got all of his $20 million within 15 days.

The Jets and Wilson still have time to finalize a deal and get him on the field Wednesday, but the clock is ticking.