For rookie contracts, the dollars and cents are tied to draft position. From that perspective, there’s nothing to negotiate. The higher the player selected, however, the more issues to discuss.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson have struck multiple roadblocks on the path to a contract for the second overall pick in the draft. Issues include (but aren’t limited to) cash flow and offset language.
As to cash flow, the Jets want to defer millions in signing bonus money earned by Wilson when he executes the contract to 2022. The recent precedent for players taken in the top two include all signing bonus money paid promptly. (Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the last two No. 1 overall picks, got theirs within 15 days of signing. The last two second overall picks, 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa and Washington defensive end Chase Young, received their signing bonus within 30 days of signing.)
The Jets paid out the full signing bonus received by quarterback Sam Darnold, the third overall pick in the draft, in 2018, the year he was drafted. The Jets hope to break from precedent and push money into 2022 based on the “new boss” argument, pointing to the change in G.M. from Mike Maccagnan to Joe Douglas. That hasn’t gotten Wilson to blink, and there’s no reason to think it will.
As to offset, it’s always a simple matter of whether a guarantee is a true guarantee. If the Jets can protect themselves by forcing someone else to pay the balance of the four-year contract if Wilson busts, it’s not a true and full guarantee. Players want the offset language removed (few actually get that term) in order to receive a true and full guarantee.
Meanwhile, the Jets will move forward with training camp without Wilson — and with James Morgan and Mike White as the only two quarterbacks in camp.
Let’s mention that again. Without Wilson, the only options at quarterback are James Morgan and Mike White.
In other words, Wilson has a bit of leverage here.