Will QB1 be in town for Day 1?
The New York Jets are set to begin training camp in Florham Park, NJ on Tuesday, July 27. With mere hours to go until the ball gets rolling on the 2021 NFL season, their starting quarterback – who has yet to sign his rookie contract – remains on the opposite side of the country.
At around 5 p.m. EST on Monday, July 26, Wilson shared a post on his Instagram story that appeared to be made from Huntington Beach, CA.
Zach Wilson appears to still be in Cali
— NYJ Matt (@NYJ_Matt) July 26, 2021
The day prior, Wilson shared an image on his story suggesting that he had just flown into Los Angeles International Airport.
Wilson’s personal trainer, John Beck, is based in California, so it seems likely that Wilson is working with him. Beck has consistently worked with Wilson throughout the offseason.
What’s the holdup?
Most of the Jets’ rookies arrived in Florham Park on July 21. Since then, fellow neophytes Alijah Vera-Tucker and Elijah Moore have put pen to paper on their rookie deals, leaving Wilson as the franchise’s only unsigned rookie out of the 10 players selected by general manager Joe Douglas in the 2021 draft.
While the Jets are set to report on Tuesday, the team’s first on-field practice is not until Wednesday, so it certainly isn’t time to panic regarding Wilson’s status just yet.
However, the clock is starting to tick in regards to whether Wilson will be signed in time to avoid missing any practice time.
The terms of Wilson’s contract are set in stone based on his draft position. He will get a fully guaranteed $35.2 million over four years with the standard fifth-year team option that all first-round picks receive.
Wilson and his agents are likely disputing with the Jets over meticulous details surrounding language in the contract. Most rookies and their agents get their deals done quickly without much hassle over the minutiae, but there are always some holdovers. Fellow first-round picks Trey Lance and Rashawn Slater also remain unsigned.
Offset language is one common dispute in these situations. The offset clause allows the team to recoup some money in the event that the player is cut prior to the conclusion of their contract. Although it is a standard fixture in NFL contracts, that does not stop agents and players from fighting for its removal on some occasions. Number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence signed a contract that does not include an offset clause.
In 2016, first-round pick Joey Bosa had a long dispute with the Chargers over offset language. Bosa’s signing bonus was another prime factor in the battle. The Chargers wanted to hold off on paying Bosa’s signing bonus until March 2017, whereas Bosa wanted it by the end of his rookie season.
It wasn’t long ago that the Jets had a contract skirmish with a highly-drafted quarterback. Sam Darnold missed three practices in 2018 as his agents battled with the Jets over forfeiture language, which allows the team to recoup money if a player is injured while engaging in an activity outside of football. Forfeiture language is standard in all NFL contracts, but Darnold’s agents decided to fight for it. Some agents are just willing to go the extra mile.
Also in 2018, the Chicago Bears disputed with first-round pick Roquan Smith over the financial protections in Smith’s contract if he were fined for the league’s new lowering-the-helmet penalty.
The Jets and their fans are certainly hoping that Wilson will make his way up to New Jersey sooner rather than later. For now, it appears he is enjoying that “different” California weather.