NY Jets: Zach Wilson contract situation reminiscent of 2016
By Mason Smoller
This offseason has brought joy to the NY Jets fan base that has been missing since the magical 2015 season. That year, Gang Green went 10-6, coming just a win shy of the playoffs. While it may be hopeful, it is not impossible for the 2021 Jets to have a similar fate.
That is, though, if this does not become like the drama filled 2016 season.
In 2016, the Jets saw their magic from the year before completely vanish. They went 5-11 and begun a complete teardown. And while there were many factors that came into play, one can point to the Jets contract dispute with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting point.
No matter what, the Jets cannot let that happen again with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.
Revisiting the NY Jets' 2016 offseason.
Following the 2015 season, Fitzpatrick was due for a major raise. He started every game that season, throwing for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns. It was a year that he surprisingly cemented himself among the Jets' all-time season passing leaders, even taking the top spot in passing touchdowns.
It made sense that he wanted a raise from his one-year deal that made him just over $3 million. But the Jets did not want to overpay for someone they viewed as a temporary solution at the position.
Ultimately, the stalemate ended days before August, with a one-year, $10 million deal. However, the damage to the offense’s chemistry had already been done, as the unit never could get on the same page.
It was also the start of a year that Fitzpatrick views as one that made him question his future in the NFL.
It goes without saying that the Jets must avoid making the same mistake, especially with a rookie quarterback.
This has happened before with the NY Jets.
Fitzpatrick is not the only recent example of the Jets being at odds with a quarterback over the finer details of a contract. The same issue arose in 2018 after they drafted Sam Darnold third overall.
Darnold’s deal came down to the signing bonus and saw him miss the first three practices. At the time, the Jets had Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater practicing, therefore softening the blow.
This time, the only other quarterbacks on the roster are Mike White and James Morgan.
Therefore, it is easy to understand why they brought in veterans Josh Johnson, who played for the Jets briefly in 2015, and Sean Mannion.
In other words, the Jets working out veterans is signaling they not only need a veteran backup, but that Zach Wilson’s contract situation is far from settled.
It is too early to sound the alarm about Zach Wilson.
Yes, missing practice is bad, considering he is a rookie learning a new system in a completely revamped offense. Nonetheless, it is not time to panic.
Wilson has worked outside of the facility with Jets receivers this offseason and has been putting in the work despite not training with his teammates at Florham Park.
It is only a matter of time before No. 2 is slinging it in front of fans during training camp the next few weeks.