By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In April, the New York Jets drafted their franchise quarterback of the future. No, not Sam Darnold. No, not Christian Hackenberg. Oh, not Geno Smith, either. And not Mark Sanchez.
No, in April, the Jets drafted their real franchise quarterback of the future in Zach Wilson. Or so they hope. Despite a limited college sampling, the Jets went all in on Wilson, hanging on to their No. 2 overall pick to select him in April out of BYU. The Jets have put all their eggs in the Zach Wilson basket.
The problem is … with players reporting to work on Tuesday, Wilson wasn’t one of them. Because the Jets haven’t signed him yet.
Robert Saleh said every player is here but Zach Wilson #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) July 27, 2021
That’s not ideal.
Whatever the hang-ups may be between the Jets and their highest pick since Keyshawn Johnson in 1996, it can’t be that significant. Once the Jaguars signed Trevor Lawrence, a bar of sorts was set for the rookie quarterbacks. Mac Jones signed with the Patriots shortly after that. Justin Fields had already signed in Chicago.
Yet the Jets couldn’t come to an agreement with Wilson. And the 49ers still haven’t signed Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick.
But nobody really rags on the 49ers. People tend to assume they’ll figure things out. On the other hand, people assume the opposite with the Jets.
So people took note of Wilson’s absence on Tuesday, to say the least.
Jets may need to decide whether a contract precedent on offsets is more important than having Zach Wilson as prepared as possible for the season opener. Wilson has the same agent as Joey Bosa, who didn't sign his rookie contract until the end of August in 2016. https://t.co/fI50VMdpaD
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) July 27, 2021
Bad enough to not have the No. 2 pick signed by camp, worse when the only QBs under contract are James Morgan & Mike White
But, precedents are precedents. And the Jets have been driving a hard bargain in every negotiation this offseason. Joe Douglas & Co. setting expectations https://t.co/ByQWtndZWG
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) July 27, 2021
These issues are small potatoes given the big-picture possibility that the Jets have found their first franchise quarterback since Joe Namath. Instead, they'll open camp with James Morgan and Mike White. As someone said today, "This is why bad teams stay bad." https://t.co/mOwmxYgtMw
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 27, 2021
This is not the look you want when you’re starting a new era and your rookie QB isn’t signed at the start of TC. I would hope it gets done today before the team hits the field tomorrow #Jets
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) July 27, 2021
It's fair and reasonable for Zach Wilson to get his signing bonus paid in full in a timely manner… and not defer part of it until 2022 as the Jets want. As @ProFootballTalk points out, the past two No. 2 overall picks got their full signing bonus within 30 days of signing. https://t.co/q6PgYwlMyw
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaSports) July 27, 2021
Of course, the Jets could solve the issue overnight, come to an agreement, and have Wilson on the field for the first day of actual practice on Wednesday.
For the time being, though, it’s at least noteworthy that some squabbling over giving the young man his signing bonus now and fully committing to him financially after dumping Darnold and spending the No. 2 overall pick has led to a day’s worth of negative PR.
One might say that the Jets would be wise to work to change that quickly. But with the Jets being the Jets — 10 years without a playoff berth, 10 playoff wins since the ’60s, a 37-75 record since 2014, etc., etc., etc. — we know the franchise can endure a lot more than one single day of bad press.
Still, simply in the interest of actually committing to the “franchise QB of the future” … maybe they ought to just get that thing squared away sooner than later. It doesn’t look great in the moment.