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Explaining Why New York Jets, Zach Wilson Still Haggling Over Contract As Wilson A No-Show At Camp

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 28, 2021

The New York Jets began training camp Wednesday. But they did so without the player most observers would consider their most vital one for the upcoming season. 

The contract stalemate between the Jets and No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson continues, and it now means that Wilson is beginning to miss valuable practice time. The former BYU star and the Jets apparently still cannot come to terms on the offset language in the contract. Instead, fifth-year player Mike White and 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan took the snaps at quarterback for the Jets. Neither has played in an official NFL game.

Wilson became the last unsigned first-round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft when San Francisco agreed to terms with No. 3 overall selection Trey Lance, the former North Dakota State quarterback, early Wednesday morning. 

After practice Wednesday, new Jets head coach Robert Saleh was asked “At what point do you need Zach Wilson here, and he replied, “Ask me again tomorrow.” 

Saleh said on Tuesday that “I’ve got a lot of faith in Zach, too. He is incredibly intelligent, he’s got a tremendous drive so when he does get here, I know somehow, someway he’ll make up for” the lost practice time.

For Jets fans, this surely is an unwanted case of déjà vu. Three years ago, Wilson’s predecessor at quarterback, Sam Darnold, missed the first three days of practice at the Jets’ Florham Park, N.J. complex because of a similar contract squabble over what are believed to be the same issues.  

As explained here on the Over The Cap site, teams use offset language to protect themselves from having to pay out guaranteed money to a player if they cut him before his contract is with them expires.  

The Jets and Wilson’s agent, Brian Ayrault, also are haggling over the schedule of bonus payments, according to Pro Football Talk, which says the Jets want to defer some of the bonus money to next year. 

As for the offset language, Over The Cap founder Jason Fitzgerald, an expert in salary cap and contract issues, explained to me in a direct message that it only comes into play if a player is waived or released outright by the team that drafted him before his original four-year contract is up. Thus, he indicated, when the Jets decided to part ways with Darnold earlier this year, because they found a trade partner in the Carolina Panthers, Carolina became responsible for Darnold’s guaranteed money this season. So, the offset language the Jets bargained for with Darnold and his agency, CAA, in 2018 did not matter because of that.

“It will almost never come into play,” Fitzgerald said.

Yet it is keeping Wilson away from camp and off the field.

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