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Zach Wilson, Jets reach agreement on contract after rookie QB missed start of camp

Zach Wilson #2 of the Jets runs drills

Zach Wilson #2 of the Jets runs drills during New York Jets Mandatory Minicamp on June 15, 2021 at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey.  Credit: Getty Images/Mike Stobe

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Zach Wilson is signed and ready to make his training camp debut.

The Jets and their prized rookie quarterback finally reached an agreement on a contract on Thursday, ending Wilson’s brief holdout. He had missed the first two days of camp because there were a couple of snags in the negotiations.

Wilson was in the Jets’ building on Thursday afternoon to sign his new four-year rookie deal. Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the draft, will make $35.1 million total, with a $22.9-million signing bonus. His rookie salary was slotted, but the holdup was due to the offset language and deferred payments on Wilson’s bonus.

The two sides compromised. Wilson’s signing bonus won’t be deferred, but there are offset clauses in the contract.

Wilson had been the only first-round pick from this draft class who was unsigned. It truly was only a matter of time before the two sides struck a deal. First-year head coach Robert Saleh said Wilson has been in contact with offense coordinator Mike LaFleur over the first two days and going over installs.

"He’s in a good place," Saleh said Thursday. "He’s a sharp kid. He’s going through the process, his first season too. We’ll be excited when he gets here."

This was before news broke that Wilson’s deal was done. Saleh has been steadfast in his approach to this situation, saying it was between general manager Joe Douglas, Wilson and his agent.

The Jets opened training camp with Mike White and James Morgan sharing the quarterback duties. They have been splitting the reps evenly. Saleh said his focus was on the players here, but that it’s important for Wilson to join the team so he can get as many reps as possible. Wilson is expected to lead the offense on Friday.

"It’s more concern for the kid," Saleh said. "Every rep is important. My concern is it’s two days too many already for him. But as far as the installs go and the way we’re preparing the rest of the team it doesn’t concern me at all.

"But this young man’s got a chance to do something special around here that hasn’t been done in a while. Every rep matters for him."

The Jets believe Wilson can be a true franchise quarterback who can lead them to championships. The Jets haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2010 season or played in the Super Bowl in more than half a century.

It was evident the Jets were putting all of their faith and trust in Wilson. They traded away Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in 2018, when they decided Wilson was their guy. They also never brought in a veteran backup quarterback. Wilson will be competing against no one in camp.

Wilson will get as many reps and as much experience as possible during camp and the preseason to get him ready for Week 1 at Carolina against Darnold and the Panthers.

There was so much excitement surrounding the Jets heading into this season. Wilson not being in camp at the start put a damper on some of it. But Saleh tried to assure everyone that the culture is changing.

"I get outside perception, outside narrative, ‘Same old Jets,’ whatever," he said. "It has nothing to do with any of that. It has everything to do with a business transaction.

"In here guys are working. There are 89 other guys trying to make a living. They’re counting on us as coaches and an organization to put them in the best position to help them succeed as individuals. Everything is going to piece together and everything’s going to be fine."

Two-minute drill

Saleh is looking forward to next month’s joint practices with the Packers and Eagles. He said there was talk of having joint practices with the Giants. "Hopefully next year," Saleh said. "We would love to."

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