New York Jets open camp without top pick Sam Darnold

Yahoo Sports

The New York Jets‘ rookies reported to training camp earlier this week, a few days ahead of the veterans, and on Friday the full team had its first workout of camp.

Sam Darnold wasn’t present for any of it.

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This probably isn’t what the Jets had in mind in May when they made Darnold the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

Contract unsigned over offset language

Darnold, the former Southern California standout who has been hailed as the Jets’ quarterback of the future, hasn’t yet signed his rookie contract, and as such hasn’t reported to camp.

It’s not often we see picks hold out anymore, not since the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement slotted rookie contracts. As the No. 3 pick, Darnold will receive a fully-guaranteed, four-year deal worth just over $30 million that includes a $20.2 million signing bonus. Like contracts for all players drafted in the first round, it also includes a fifth-year team option.

When will we see this again? QB Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the draft, wasn’t on the field for the Jets’ first practice of training camp because of a contract language squabble. (AP)
When will we see this again? QB Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the draft, wasn’t on the field for the Jets’ first practice of training camp because of a contract language squabble. (AP)

But according to SNY reporter Ralph Vacchiano, team sources say it’s the offset language in the contract that has led to Darnold not yet signing with the team.

Vacchiano and others are pointing to Darnold’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, for the delay.

In this case, offset language means getting Darnold’s full 2021 salary guaranteed even if the Jets cut the quarterback before the fourth year of his contract, and that he’d get the full amount even if he signed with another team.

The Jets, and most teams, prefer players not double-dip, and offset language provides that the Jets would pay only the difference between what Darnold signed for with a new team and what he was originally slated to make with the Jets.

Is offset language worth the time lost?

Quarterback, obviously, is the hardest position to learn. And while Darnold was supposed to start camp third on the depth chart behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, he’s not doing himself any favors by missing this time.

Even if the Jets, as Vacchiano reported, quietly want to see Darnold progress enough in camp to make him the opening day starter, losing snaps and learning time in camp will make it harder for the team to make that decision.

It’s not like McCown or Bridgewater is unexperienced; if one or both has an excellent camp, it may give the team no choice but to hold off on the start of Darnold’s Days.

It also makes Darnold and the Jets look bad, since No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield was on the field for the start of Cleveland Browns camp. Mayfield’s contract does include offset language.

Judging by fan and media reaction on Twitter, Darnold is getting the lion’s share of the blame for him not overruling Sexton and getting on the field.

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