Why hasn’t Zach Wilson signed his rookie contract yet?
The former BYU star and current New York Jet is one of two quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, along with San Francisco’s Trey Lance, who has yet to sign his rookie contract
Zach Wilson is one of just a handful of 2021 NFL first-round draft picks who has yet to sign his rookie contract after fellow quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones inked their deals earlier this week with Jacksonville and New England, respectively.
Wilson, the former BYU and Corner Canyon High quarterback and the No. 2 overall pick in the draft by the New York Jets, still has time to sign before training camp and is joined by San Francisco’s Trey Lance, the other first-round quarterback pick who is still unsigned.
Wilson and Lance are two of just six first-round selections who remain unsigned, according to NFL.com’s signing tracker, and that includes the Jets’ other first-round pick, USC interior lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker.
What’s holding it up?
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero explained that while the actual numbers of Wilson’s four-year rookie contract are fairly set, it’s other details that are the likely cause for delay of Wilson and Lance’s contracts not being signed.
“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 non-football injury list,” Pelissero said during an NFL Network segment.
“They seem like small things but they are important in establishing precedent. In terms of Trevor Lawrence signing with the Jaguars on the other teams, you have to remember each of those teams has their own contract precedents. So whether you’re Zach Wilson with the Jets or Trey Lance with the 49ers, you’ve got different issues.
“It’s their agents’ job to get the best deal and the most out of those teams that are possible.”
What is Wilson’s rookie contract worth?
Under the NFL’s rookie slotting system, Wilson’s four-year rookie contract — with a fifth-year option — will be worth a projected $35.1 million fully guaranteed, with $22.9 million in signing bonus, according to Spotrac. He’ll count $6.4 million against the salary cap in 2021.
Contract details for other first-round quarterbacks
The four-year rookie contract for Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick to the Jaguars, is worth a projected $36.8 million, including a $24.1 million signing bonus, and he will count $6.7 million against the salary cap this season, according to ESPN.
Jones, the No. 15 overall pick by the Patriots, will earn approximately $15.6 million on his four-year contract with a signing bonus near $8.7 million, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
The other first-round quarterback selection, Chicago’s Justin Fields, signed his rookie contract earlier this offseason. The No. 11 overall selection’s contract is worth nearly $18.9 million with an $11 million signing bonus, according to Spotrac.
When the Jets open training camp
New York, like 29 other NFL teams, opens training camp on July 27.
Wilson’s predecessor with the Jets, Sam Darnold, missed the first three Jets practices of his rookie training camp in 2018 because of contract negotiations over specific clauses and language, ESPN reported at the time. Darnold was traded this offseason to Carolina, making the way for Wilson.
“Holdouts are pretty rare under this collective bargaining agreement because of those slotted contracts, but (the Los Angeles Chargers’) Joey Bosa, (the Chicago Bears’) Roquan Smith, there are examples where guys end up missing weeks of camp. We still have a few weeks for the Jets and 49ers to get those deals done,” Pelissero said.