Jets quarterback Sam Darnold won’t be doing any “double dipping” (Chris Simms had a different term for it on Monday’s PFT Live, and Steve Levy would be proud), but Darnold picked up plenty of other non-financial terms in order to get his deal done.
Darnold’s deal includes offset language on his future guarantees, meaning that the Jets will get credit for anything he makes with another team, if he ends up being cut. In exchange for yielding on that term (which none of the top-10 players obtained this year), Darnold picked up several other key terms.
First, the Jets will pay out the full $20 million signing bonus within the next 15 days. Teams rarely if ever pay out the money that quickly, especially to rookies.
Second, all language voiding guarantees based on fines has been removed. As one source explained it, this means that Darnold has protection against league- and/or team-imposed fines on a wide variety of topics, from forgetting to let the urine sample collector know he left town for an unplanned trip to the kind of petty fine that the Chargers imposed on safety Eric Weddle as he was entering his last legs with the team. If the regime changes and if a new coach or G.M. wants to move on from Darnold, it’s important to limit any avenues for wiping out his guaranteed money and, in turn, allowing him to be cut with no further financial obligation.
Third, Darnold obtained the same language as Giants running back Saquon Barkley regarding suspension for on-field rules violations. Before scoffing at the idea that quarterbacks would be fined for helmet-related infractions, consider what may happen when a quarterback is trying to execute a head-first sneak under the new helmet rules. At best it’s uncertain as to whether quarterbacks will be punished, so it’s better to be protected.
Fourth, Darnold will get his sizable training-camp roster bonuses even if he’s on the active/non-football injury list when camp opens. This protects him against, for example, a sprained ankle while playing basketball a week or two before the start of training camp that keeps him from passing the physical when he reports.
The holdout wasn’t about money, because nothing can be done to change the available cash. He was going to make $30.2 million over the next four years regardless of the specific terms of the deal. But he’s now far more likely to actually receive all of it, since the Jets have far fewer devices for shenanigans if a new regime decides it doesn’t want Darnold (or that Darnold is another Christian Hackenberg) and doesn’t want to pay him.