FLORHAM PARK, NEW JERSEY
— The New York Jets reminded everyone Wednesday that not everything has changed for the better after a promising offseason that reenergized their fan base.
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the Jets’ No. 1 quarterback, is the team’s new face.
On the opening day of training camp, the No. 2 overall draft pick this year was nowhere to be found.
Mike White, a former practice squad player who has yet to participate in an NFL game, was in charge of the first-team offense.
Fans would have booed the Jets if there had been an open practice, and rightfully so.
Thirty-one of the 32 first-round picks are currently under contract.
The only person who isn’t…
You already know the answer.
The Jets had an ugly day when they fumbled in the open field.
Wilson’s rookie contract amount is determined by his draft position, which is No.
New York only needs to cross a few Ts and fill in a few spaces on the contract.
Wilson’s agents and the Jets are battling over contract language, not money.
The offset clause, which protects the team financially if Wilson is cut before the end of his four-year, $35.2 million contract (which is fully guaranteed), is the main sticking point.
During the first day of #JetsCamp, Coach Saleh addresses to the media.
Let’s be clear: A dispute over an offset isn’t unique to the Jets. https://t.co/Q5QBEk6WlB — New York Jets (@nyjets) July 28, 2021
Every group has to cope with it.
In reality, except for the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars, 30 of the 32 teams (including the Jets) routinely incorporate offsets in contracts with guaranteed money.
So, why are the Jets the only team without a deal in place for their first-round draft pick?
Another issue is the payment timetable for Wilson’s $22 million signing bonus.
It came up in the Jets’ 2018 contract negotiations with quarterback Sam Darnold, and the team paid the whole bonus within 15 days of Darnold signing.
It’s unclear why the Jets are attempting to delay some of Wilson’s salary.
This isn’t rocket science; it’s just a straightforward contract discussion.
Exacerbating the problem, the Jets passed on bringing in a seasoned quarterback in the summer, putting all their hopes in Wilson.
On a number of levels, that was a poor judgment.
No disrespect to White and James Morgan, a fourth-round pick in 2020 with little professional experience, but the Jets have no other choices.
They faced a similar predicament when Darnold was forced to miss three practices due to a contract issue.
They had veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater on the roster at the time, so there was less of a sense of urgency.
This isn’t the case.
Wilson must report to camp as soon as possible.
Each and every rep is crucial.
The Jets have 20 sessions and three preseason games to prepare him for the start of the regular season in September.
12 against the Panthers of Carolina
Every day he misses hurts him.
Every day the receiving corps is harmed is a loss.
It was a dunk-and-dunk contest on Wednesday, with White and Morgan tossing practically everything under 10 yards.
In a new offensive strategy, this is not the way to create chemistry.
The Jets haven’t yet reached a critical juncture.
Wilson may walk up on Thursday or Friday, and by the following week, this shambles will be forgotten.
But for the time being, it’s a bad look.
When was the last time coach Robert Saleh “needed” Wilson in camp?
“Ask me again tomorrow,” he added, smiling. Saleh tried to put on a brave face, saying nice things about White and Morgan, but you can bet he’s eager to get his QB1 into camp.
He has to follow the company line in public, but no one believes his happy talk.
What about that fantastic offseason?
Each day that the contract issue drags on, it loses some of its sparkle.
For the first time since 2019, supporters turn out to watch training camp on Saturday.
The supporters will bring a Bronx cheer to New Jersey if Wilson isn’t on the field.