Zach Wilson is absent on the eve of New York Jets training camp. Here’s why
The former BYU quarterback and No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft still has not signed his rookie contract
As of now, when the New York Jets open training camp with their first practice Wednesday, former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson won’t be there.
Why is that? The No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft still hasn’t signed his rookie contract.
Wilson is now just one of two first-round draft picks who remain unsigned, along with San Francisco quarterback Trey Lance (No. 3 overall), after Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater (No. 13) signed Tuesday, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
What’s the holdup?
About three weeks ago, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero explained why there are delays for some rookie contracts, even while the actual numbers of Wilson’s four-year rookie contract are fairly set.
“What’s being negotiated in these deals are payment structure. … It’s things like offset language if you get cut, default language if you end up on the nonfootball injury list,” Pelissero said during an NFL Network segment at the time.
Under the NFL’s rookie slotting system, Wilson’s four-year rookie contract — it includes a fifth-year option — will be worth a projected $35.1 million fully guaranteed, with $22.9 million in signing bonus, according to Spotrac.
What’s happening now
Wilson is the only Jets player who hasn’t reported for camp, leaving the team with only two quarterbacks — James Morgan and Mike White, neither of whom have regular-season experience — for practice Wednesday if Wilson hasn’t signed by then. On Monday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported Wilson was in Southern California training, based on his Instagram story.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh told media members Tuesday that general manager Joe Douglas is actively addressing Wilson’s situation.
“With regards to Zach, obviously Joe’s working on it here this morning and hopefully that gets done,” Saleh said, per NFL.com. “But as it is with every player on this roster, when one person misses, another person has to take over those reps, so it’s a challenge just in terms of trying to maintain the wear and tear on all these individual players.
“But for the individual, that’s where the challenge becomes in terms of making up those reps. Everybody knows how important it is to me and our team with regards to reps and practice and process, and every moment you miss from that process, it becomes a challenge from an individual standpoint. But as a team, we’re in good shape, the installs are in good shape and we’re ready to roll.”
Where do they go from here?
Until his contract is signed, Wilson will remain away from practice. It’s a similar situation to when Wilson’s predecessor, Sam Darnold, missed the first three Jets practices of his rookie training camp in 2018 until his contract dispute was resolved.
Saleh doesn’t sound worried about the possibility of Wilson missing practice time.
“It’s something he’ll have to navigate through,” he said, per ESPN. “I’ve got a lot of faith in Zach. He’s incredibly intelligent and he’s got a tremendous drive. When he does get here, I know somehow, someway he’ll make up for it.”