Zach Wilson

Injury Notes: Steelers, JPP, Jets, Mailata

After suffering a pectoral injury in Week 2, Ben Roethlisberger is not in jeopardy of missing Week 3. The Steelers will have their 18th-year quarterback against the Bengals. Big Ben returned to full practice Friday. He will not have his top receiver available, however. Although Diontae Johnson‘s late-game injury was not believed to be serious, Mike Tomlin pushed back on the prospect the third-year wideout would quickly surmount his knee problem. The Steelers have declared their leading receiver out for Sunday. The third-year pass catcher has run into myriad injury issues as a pro, missing games or parts of games with several maladies last year. The Steelers have contract-year wideout James Washington set to step in as a full-timer.

Here is the latest from the injury front going into the season’s third Sunday:

  • In addition to being unlikely to have Antonio Brown available, the Buccaneers will be down Jason Pierre-Paul against the Rams. The 11th-year pass rusher will miss Week 3 with hand and shoulder injuries; he did not practice this week. Tampa Bay will be set to use first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka more extensively in L.A.
  • Andre Dillard looks likely to return to the Eagles‘ starting lineup for the first time since November 2019. Recently extended left tackle Jordan Mailata is likely to miss Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. A knee injury is expected to keep the ex-rugby player out of Philly’s lineup, though Garafolo notes the team does not view the setback as serious. Mailata suffered the injury in practice this week, E.J. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds. Dillard missed extensive camp time due to a knee injury and has not played an offensive snap since 2019.
  • The Jets will have Zach Wilson in uniform against the Broncos, but the rookie quarterback is playing through a groin injury. The No. 2 overall pick sustained the injury during the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Panthers, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Wilson practiced fully this week, but Howe adds the BYU product went through an MRI recently. Although Wilson might not be in danger of missing time, this is certainly an issue to monitor.
  • The Packers are likely to be severely shorthanded on their O-line in San Francisco. Elgton Jenkins, who has filled in for PUP list-stationed David Bakhtiari at left tackle, is doubtful to face the 49ers because of an ankle issue. Green Bay will likely be forced to use its third left tackle option against the 49ers, who feature Nick Bosa as their primary blindside rusher. The Packers signed Dennis Kelly this offseason, giving them a potential option at right tackle in the event they slide right-side starter Billy Turner to left tackle.
  • Between their practice squad and active roster, the 49ers have seven running backs. That total balloons to nine if Raheem Mostert (IR) and Jeff Wilson (PUP) are included, and San Francisco’s backfield will be missing more pieces Sunday. Due to injuries sustained in Week 2, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty are respectively doubtful and out for Sunday night’s game. On the bright side, third-round rookie Trey Sermon has cleared concussion protocol. Despite beginning the season as a healthy scratch, Sermon should be expected to start, Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets. The 49ers have Trenton Cannon and recent addition Jacques Patrick, an XFL alum the 49ers added off the Bengals’ practice squad, on their active roster and Kerryon Johnson and Josh Hokit on their practice squad.

Jets Strongly Considered Keeping Sam Darnold

With their Panthers matchup in the past, the Jets and Sam Darnold can move in different directions. Zach Wilson made his NFL debut in the one-score loss. Both QBs are unquestioned starters, but the Jets spent extensive time on a scenario in which they’d be teammates.

Prior to the teams’ April trade, which sent Darnold to Carolina for three draft choices, the Jets gave strong consideration to keeping their previous starter and still drafting Wilson, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Robert Saleh indicated the team would have been OK with both passers on the 2021 roster.

It would’ve been fine in either direction,” Saleh said. “Whether we had Zach at the reins, whether we had Sam, it didn’t really matter to us.”

The Jets could have made the arrangement work, cost-wise, with Darnold’s rookie deal running through 2021. By picking up Darnold’s fifth-year option, the Panthers have extended the deal to 2022. Of course, this also would have introduced the prospect of Wilson being blocked by a former top-three quarterback pick that did not have a long-term future with the franchise.

The Cardinals scuttled this type of plan two years ago, trading top-10 pick Josh Rosen after drafting Kyler Murray first overall a year later. Although the 2012 Colts and 2016 Eagles’ situations were a bit different, both teams moved incumbent starters — former No. 1 overall picks Peyton Manning and Sam Bradford — off their rosters to clear respective paths for Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz. The Chiefs went the other way four years ago, and Patrick Mahomes benefited from ex-No. 1 selection Alex Smith‘s mentoring. Darnold, however, did not offer the stability Smith did and, in his fourth season, made less sense as a mentor for Wilson.

Carolina sent a 2021 sixth-round pick and two 2022 picks — second- and fourth-rounders — for Darnold. The Panthers traded Teddy Bridgewater to the Broncos shortly after making that deal. Jets GM Joe Douglas said the team landing the No. 2 overall pick changed the blueprint. Darnold likely would still be a Jet had last year’s 2-14 finish not secured such a valuable draft choice. Wilson is now the future in New York. The Jets steered clear of veteran backups as well, giving the BYU prospect every opportunity to receive first-team practice reps leading up to his rookie season.

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Contract Details: Chubb, Thomas, Allen, Wilson

Let’s catch up on the details of some of the big contracts recently signed around the NFL:

  • We heard last night that Browns running back Nick Chubb was signing a big three-year extension worth $36MM with $20MM guaranteed. We’ve got the full equation now, thanks to what a league source told Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com. For starters, Chubb is getting a $12MM signing bonus. It also turns out that not *quite* $20MM is fully guaranteed. The actual guarantee is only $17.133MM. However, it’s almost effectively $20MM, since the other $2.87MM in guarantees vests in 2022 and it’s incredibly unlikely Chubb would be off the roster by then. Chubb will have low salaries and low cap hits in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, he’ll have a cap hit of $14.85MM. He’ll have a $10.85MM salary but only the $2.87MM of that will be guaranteed. In 2024, he’ll have a non-guaranteed salary of $11.775MM and a cap hit of $16.2MM for his final year.
  • Washington just made Logan Thomas the seventh highest-paid tight end in the game, and now we have new figures on his deal. His three-year, $24MM extension will give him a cap hit of $6.465MM in 2022, $8.75MM in 2023, and $8.315MM in 2024, John Keim of EPSN.com reports. The dead cap hits for those three years will be $7.465MM, $3.5MM, and $1.75MM respectively. In other words it won’t be too hard for the team to get out of the contract after 2022 if they wanted to. Thomas will receive a $300K roster bonus each season, and is due a $500K roster bonus on the fifth day of the 2024 league year, so that will be an important date in the final season of his new pact.
  • Thomas wasn’t the only player to get an extension from Washington this past week. The Football Team also gave defensive tackle Jonathan Allen a big four-year, $72MM deal. We didn’t previously know the full guaranteed amount, but it’s apparently $35.6MM. Allen’s cap hits for those four new seasons will be $9.5MM, $21.5MM, $21.5MM, and $23MM, Keim writes. As such, he won’t start really weighing down Washington’s books until 2023. He has a $14MM salary for that season which becomes guaranteed on the third day of that league year. His dead cap charges will be $26MM, $18MM, $12MM, $6MM for 2022-2025.
  • Zach Wilson and the Jets avoided potential disaster by agreeing to terms on his rookie deal right before training camp started, and now we have more context on the holdup. We knew there was an issue about potential signing bonus money deferment, and it turns out New York wanted the rookie quarterback to wait to get a significant amount of cash. The Jets “only opened negotiations last week,” and wanted Wilson to defer a whopping $6MM of his signing bonus to 2022, a source told Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). After the team relented and agreed to pay the whole signing bonus upfront, Wilson hopped on a plane to New York. In return, the Jets did get some of the offset language they were seeking.

AFC East Notes: Waddle, Wilson, Jets, Pats

Jaylen Waddle missed most of his senior season at Alabama due to a broken ankle. While that injury occurred back in October, the top-10 pick does not appear to have fully recovered. Waddle’s ankle remains an issue at Dolphins camp, according to Adam Beasley of the Pro Football Network. Some with the Dolphins do not believe the No. 6 overall pick has regained his full explosiveness just yet, Beasley adds. The former Tua Tagovailoa Tuscaloosa weapon has walked with a limp during training camp but has gone through practices, avoiding a stay on Miami’s active/PUP list. Although the Dolphins have three first-round wideouts on their roster, with free agent pickup Will Fuller joining DeVante Parker, Waddle is the highest-drafted receiver in team history.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Jets making Zach Wilson the last of this year’s 259 draftees to sign is not especially surprising, given the timing of the sides’ negotiations. The Jets did not begin negotiating with the No. 2 overall pick until last week, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (on Twitter). Gang Green wanted Wilson to defer $6MM of his signing bonus to 2022, but when the team agreed to pay it all this year, Wilson flew to the Big Apple. While payment schedule was an issue for Wilson’s camp, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes offset language was the top concern for the quarterback. Once the Jets agreed to pay out his bonus within 15 days, however, the BYU product caved on offsets, which are present in his deal.
  • Marcus Maye and the Jets never came close on a deal ahead of the franchise tag extension deadline, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. With a Maye tag in 2022 costing the Jets $12.7MM, Cimini expects this season to be it for Maye with the team. The Jets appear intent on gauging Maye’s fit in Robert Saleh‘s defense, but the timing here may well lead Maye elsewhere next year. Maye and Jamal Adams started together for three seasons on Gang Green’s back line. It is now looking likely each will have passed through before receiving a big payday with another team.
  • Two-year incumbent Sam Ficken and rookie UDFA Chris Naggar are vying for the Jets’ kicker job, but the team held a workout recently at this position. Matthew McCraneMatt Ammendola and Haidar Zaidan worked out for the team this week, Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 tweets. Of the three, McCrane is the only one to kick in an NFL game. And that came back in 2018.
  • The Patriots received a slight boost in their salary cap space this week. Patrick Chung‘s retirement being officially processed created $891K in cap space for the Pats, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed tweets. Chung opted out last season but announced his retirement in March. New England currently carries just more than $13MM in cap space.

Jets, Zach Wilson Agree To Deal

It took a little longer than expected, but the Jets have signed the No. 2 overall pick. Quarterback Zach Wilson has agreed to terms (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), clearing the way for him to join his teammates on the practice field.

The two sides were haggling over offset language and the timing of Wilson’s signing bonus — the front office was hoping to “defer millions in signing bonus money” to 2022. Normally, top-two picks get all their signing bonus money up front. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, and Washington defensive end Chase Young all got theirs within 30 days of inking their respective rookie deals. The compromise: The Jets get their offset and Wilson gets his bonus inside of the next 15 days.

Now, the Jets can operate as planned, with Wilson taking first-team reps ahead of James Morgan and Mike White. The deal also means that all the Round 1 paperwork has been completed across the league. Chargers inked first-round pick Rashawn Slater and 49ers quarterback Trey Lance signed earlier this week while Wilson waited until the very end.

Wilson didn’t earn as much fanfare as Trevor Lawrence, but he still offers tons of potential for Gang Green. The 6’2″ passer is fresh off of a breakout season with a 73.5% completion rate, good for No. 2 in the nation. Meanwhile, his 33 passing touchdowns placed him third, and he threw just three interceptions. Meanwhile, Wilson’s mobility powered him to ten rushing touchdowns last year, showcasing the speed he’ll need to thrive at the pro level.

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Latest On Jets QB Zach Wilson, Unsigned Rookie Contract

Zach Wilson is one of two unsigned first-round picks, and we’re now learning why the Jets franchise quarterback has yet to ink his rookie contract. According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the No. 2 pick and the organization are in a staring contest over “cash flow and offset language.”

Specifically, the front office is hoping to “defer millions in signing bonus money” to 2022. Normally, top-two picks get all their signing bonus money up front; Florio cites Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, Washington defensive end Chase Young as recent examples who received their signing bonuses within 30 days of inking their respective rookie deals.

In fact, the Jets organization paid 2018 No. 3 pick Sam Darnold his entire signing bonus 15 days after his signing (Twitter link). Of course, as Florio notes, Joe Douglas can simply argue that it was Mike Maccagnan‘s regime that agreed to that arrangement.

Surely, one of the sides will blink. Presumably, it will be the Jets, who wouldn’t want to do anything to upset their franchise cornerstone before he’s even stepped on the field. Further, Wilson wouldn’t be in training camp without a deal, meaning the organization will be forced to move forward with James Morgan and Mike White as their top options. Assuming the organization wants to take a step forward in 2021, that scenario presumably wouldn’t sit right with anyone.

The Chargers inked first-round pick Rashawn Slater earlier today, leaving Wilson and 49ers quarterback Trey Lance as the only unsigned first-round picks.

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Latest On Unsigned First-Round Rookies

After the Falcons inked first-round tight end Kyle Pitts to his rookie deal earlier today, there are eight first-round rookies who remain unsigned:

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB (Clemson)
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB (BYU)
3) San Francisco 49ers (from Texans via Dolphins): Trey Lance, QB (North Dakota State)
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT (Northwestern)
14) New York Jets (from Vikings): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL (USC)
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB (Alabama)
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson)
26) Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II, CB (Northwestern)

This isn’t a huge cause for concern, as first-round contracts are pretty standard and by-the-book. However, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has an explanation for why at least a handful of these players still haven’t put pen to paper. According to the reporter (via Twitter), there are still some “wrinkles to work out” for the notable quarterback deals. This sentiment would presumably apply to each of the top-three picks, and it could even be referring to Patriots first-round quarterback Mac Jones.

There’s a number of minor details that agents could be pushing for, including signing bonus terms or any other contract language that goes beyond the standard, boilerplate options. On the other side, teams could be pushing for some type of offset language, meaning the organization would get some financial flexibility if the player for some reason doesn’t finish their rookie contract with the team.

When it comes to the quarterbacks, most of the agents are probably waiting to see how Lawrence’s deal unfolds in Jacksonville. Alternatively, if Bill Belichick and the Patriots (somehow) give in to any demands from Jones camp, you can bet the top-three QBs would argue for similar benefits. While there are a number of reasons why the other, non-QB players have yet to sign, one could guess that the two offensive lineman may be pushing for similar terms (Vera-Tucker could also simply be waiting for his teammate to sign their contract). Etienne is in a unique position as one of only two first-round running backs (or, like Vera-Tucker, he could be waiting for his teammate), while Newsome recently fired his agent.

The teams and the players will want the contracts settled prior to training camp in late-July, but that still leaves a few weeks for negotiating.

Ten First-Round Picks Remain Unsigned

This year, NFL teams have been quick to tackle their rookie paperwork. Still, there are a decent number of unsigned draft picks remaining, including ten of this year’s first-rounders: 

In a sense, this is a sign that things are back to normal in football following the pandemic. For example, by June 12th of 2019, 22 first-round picks had put pen to paper, with 222 rookies inked on the whole. However, around this time last year, there were just two first-round picks officially in the fold – Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

Offset language and similar minutia could be holding these ten deals up, but there’s no reason to panic. In all likelihood, these rookie contracts will be squared away before the start of training camp this summer.

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Jets Draft Zach Wilson No. 2 Overall

Trevor Lawrence was a virtual lock for the No. 1 pick, but Zach Wilson‘s odds of going to the Jets weren’t far behind. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Jets tapped the BYU passer to be their next quarterback of the future. 

Wilson didn’t earn as much fanfare as Lawrence, but he still offers tons of potential. The 6’2″ passer is fresh off of a breakout season with a 73.5% completion rate, good for No. 2 in the nation. Meanwhile, his 33 passing touchdowns placed him third, and he threw just three interceptions. Wilson’s mobility powered him to ten rushing touchdowns last year, further vaulting him up the Jets’ draft board. It also helped that he hit it off with Jets GM Joe Douglas in the interview process.

The knocks on Wilson are few and far between. Some say his decision making was questionable in 2019, a season cut short by a thumb surgery. But, last year, Wilson kept the turnovers to a minimum and consistently found the open man. Some also wonder if he’ll have durability issues as his ~210-pound frame adjusts to harder hits at the pro level.

Regardless, the Jets are supremely confident in Wilson and his upside, which is why they traded No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold to the Panthers.

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Jets Have Not Received Offer For No. 2 Pick

With the Jets having traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers, their quarterback path has become fairly clear. Zach Wilson is expected to head to the Big Apple at No. 2 overall. However, the Jets are not believed to have received strong interest in their rather valuable draft choice even prior to the Darnold deal.

In addition to the Jets having received little interest in the draft’s second selection, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast they have not received an offer for the pick (video link). This proves interesting, given the haul the 49ers parted with for the Dolphins’ No. 3 overall choice.

[RELATED: 49ers expressed interest in Sam Darnold]

Ahead of free agency, the 49ers inquired about what it would take to acquire Darnold. The Jets, however, were still in the process of determining their QB route. Other teams, including the 49ers, moved on, resulting in the Jets collecting a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second- and fourth-round selections for Darnold. While the Jets and 49ers having discussed Darnold, they are not believed to have held talks about the No. 2 pick. With the 49ers sending the Dolphins No. 12 and two future first-rounders for No. 3, the Jets likely did wonder why the Niners did not ask about their pick, Rapoport adds.

Part of the reason behind the Jets receiving little interest for their pick stems from the league believing they will use it on Wilson and move forward with a rookie-contract passer for the next three-plus years. They join the Jaguars in being essentially locked in on a certain quarterback with their pick.

Douglas said this week the Jets would likely have been preparing for another Darnold QB1 season had they not obtained the No. 2 overall pick, so it would have taken a monster haul for the 49ers to move up. The 49ers, who did contact the Falcons and Bengals about the Nos. 4 and 5 picks, opted to climb nine spots instead of 10. Trades involving the No. 2 pick commenced in 2012, 2016 and ’17 — for Robert Griffin III, Carson Wentz and Mitchell Trubisky, respectively, though the Bears only traded up one spot for their preferred passer — but it does not look like a major deal will transpire this year.

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