As Rich Cimini noted today rookies report on Monday for training camp and the Jets’ top 3 picks are still not signed. Dee Milliner, Sheldon Richardson and Geno Smith have not put pen to paper yet and time is running out. According to the report, the hold up is on offset language for Milliner and Richardson while Smith is trying to get guaranteed money commiserate with quarterbacks drafted in the second round previously while the Jets are offering the regular slotted money for his position. Offset language is a provision in the contract that if the player gets released while having guaranteed money owed to him, the amount he is owed would be reduced by the amount he signs for with another team. For example, if Smith is released with $3 million left to be paid and he signs elsewhere for $2 million the Jets would only owe him $1 million. If there is no offset language the player can essentially double dip and get paid from two teams simultaneously.
The importance of getting all three of these players into camp cannot be underestimated. Milliner has not been able to practice yet due to an injured shoulder so in order to catch up and have the impact the Jets need him to he needs a full training camp. Playing corner for the Jets is an extremely difficult task due to the complexity of the defense where chemistry and communication along the back line is essential. Also, frequent blitzes leave you in man to man coverage and having as many reps as possible is essential. Richardson does not just need to learn one position he likely needs to learn each position along the defensive line due to his versatility and athleticism. Once again this is a very complex defense that requires much classroom study, on field teaching and reps to learn. Finally and most importantly of all Geno Smith needs to be in camp from day 1 if he has any chance of unseating Mark Sanchez by Week 1. You can’t win a competition if you aren’t there. Smith has to learn a new offense, develop chemistry with his teammates, learn to play from under center and find his voice as a leader.
From all we have heard John Idzik is a shrewd negotiator who knows how to get what he wants but I also believe he is practical as well. Idzik knows that if he is too stubborn he could derail a solid first offseason and kill the team’s momentum going into training camp. I hope and expect that all three contracts will get done this weekend and the players will report on time. Because the alternative is not acceptable.