FLORHAM PARK, NJ – It took longer than expected, but the New York Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson on Thursday agreed to the terms of his rookie contract on Thursday.
The first-round pick and suspected starter, who missed two days of training as the two sides haggled over technical details in the contract language, signed a four-year deal for $ 35.15 million – a time-limited deal that is fully guaranteed.
It includes a $ 22.9 million signing bonus and a fifth year team option that is standard on all first round picks.
Wilson, who got a red eye from Los Angeles and arrived in New Jersey Thursday morning, was the last unsigned first-round selection from the 2021 NFL draft.
The contract includes offset language and the signing bonus will be paid out within 15 days, according to a source, details that suggest the sides compromised because those were the sticking points. Originally, the Jets wanted to postpone payments until 2022.
Let the fun begin. pic.twitter.com/EyAFQFxla7
– New York Jets (@nyjets) July 29, 2021
Coach Robert Saleh spoke to reporters shortly before the deal was announced and said he spoke to Wilson earlier this week. The conversation was all about football, not about contract content, said Saleh. He said he was not concerned that the stalemate could be a disruption to the team.
“It’s more of a concern for the child,” Saleh said. “Every representative is important, so my concern is that it will be two days too long for them. But when it comes to the installations and the way we prepare the rest of the team, I’m not concerned.
“But this young man has the chance to do something special here that hasn’t been done in a long time, and every repetition is important to him.”
Wilson benefited from a heavy workload in the spring. With no veterans in the squad, he took over all the repetitions of the first team.
There has been an increased urgency to get a deal because the Jets are counting on him as their starter on opening day even though they haven’t announced it. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are James Morgan and Mike White, both of whom have no regular season experience. Rookie contract disputes are uncommon as the deals are limited in time, but teams and agents sometimes haggle over specific clauses.
The Jets include compensation in every guaranteed money contract that provides financial protection if they release the player before the contract is signed. An offset allows a team to cancel a player before their four-year contract expires and reduce the remaining money by the amount of their next contract.
This is not an unusual attitude. It is believed that 30 of the 32 teams use offsets in contracts. The exceptions are the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the latter signing Trevor Lawrence as the number 1 pick for a no-offset contract.
With no compensation, a Cut player takes his old team’s guarantee plus the money he receives from his new team – also known as double dipping.
What made the Jets’ negotiations difficult was that at least two of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round got deals with no full offsets – Lawrence and Justin Fields (# 11 Chicago Bears). Fields received a partial offset.
Interestingly, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who is 2020 top pick and represented by the same agency that negotiated Wilson’s contract, signed a contract that included offset language.