And then there was one! New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who was drafted with the second overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, was the final first-round draft pick left unsigned before today. The 21-year-old out of BYU has been absent from Jets' training camp but will likely return in the next couple of days.
Wilson's delayed contract situation could have turned into quite a detrimental start to the Jets' relationship with the QB. A rookie quarterback needs every second of time he can get to learn the offense and work with his players.
As for the Jets, all three quarterbacks on the depth chart, including Zach Wilson, don't have any NFL experience, so this would've made for a difficult situation for new head coach Robert Saleh.
3 reasons why QB Zach Wilson's contract with the New York Jets was delayed
#1 - Signing bonus
It has been reported that one of the main concerns Zach Wilson had about his rookie contract was the signing bonus. As a first-round selection, Wilson expected to receive his signing bonus immediately.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was selected just one pick before Wilson, received the entirety of his signing bonus within two weeks of signing his contract. A first overall pick in 2020, Joe Burrow also received his signing bonus within two weeks of giving his John Hancock.
Former second overall picks Nick Bosa and Chase Young each received their signing bonuses within one month of signing.
It seems the New York Jets wanted to hold off on paying Wilson's signing bonus, or at least most of it, until the 2022 season. Seeing as the Jets have paid their signing bonus money to their draft picks immediately in the past, it caused quite a stir, given the situation.
#2 - Contract language
Zach Wilson was reportedly unhappy with the "offset language" in the contract. Other NFL players have voiced their concerns over offset language in the past, which is a concern because it deals with the term "guaranteed money."
When a contract is signed, there is a certain amount of guaranteed money that even barring injury, the player still gets paid. If the Jets were pondering the idea of trading Wilson if he doesn't pan out to be the type of player they had hoped for, the Jets could've traded him, forcing another team to pay Wilson's remaining contract.
#3 - Time
Zach Wilson knows that the longer the contract negotiations take, the less time he gets on the playing field. It appears the Jets reached the end of that thread late this week as they finally agreed to terms with the rookie quarterback.