The New York Jets made Zach Wilson the second overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, but what is his contract worth, and what is the salary cap impact during the contract? Below we will look at the full value of the contract, the salary cap impact throughout the deal, and the Jets’ options with Wilson in the future.
Zach Wilson’s contract details and bonuses
As with all rookie contracts since the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, the value of Wilson’s deal was assigned based on his second overall draft position. The value of the contract was set at a fully guaranteed $35.1 million on a four-year deal with a fifth-year team option. The fifth-year option is not accounted for in the $35.2 million. Instead, it’s based on Wilson’s performances in his first three years in the league.
The specifics of Wilson’s contract include a signing bonus of just under $22.9 million with around $12 million in salary. All of that money is guaranteed, assuming Wilson does nothing that would warrant the contract being voided.
Podcast: More than Football with Trey Wingo Note: This article continues after the podcast player. To subscribe to More than Football with Trey Wingo and Brett Yarris, find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
What impact does Wilson’s deal have on the Jets’ salary cap?
While Wilson will receive around $23.5 million in cash as a rookie, his salary cap number is significantly different.
Wilson’s $23 million signing bonus will prorate across the four years of his contract at just over $5.7 million per year. That $5.7 million combines with Wilson’s salary for each year to determine his salary cap number.
In 2021, Wilson is projected to count for just under $6.5 million in salary-cap space. That number rises to approximately $8 million in 2022, $9.5 million in 2023, and $11 million in 2024.
What options do the Jets have with Wilson’s contract?
The structure of rookie contracts somewhat limits the Jets’ options with Wilson. As mentioned above, the deal is fully guaranteed. Therefore, even if the Jets want to release Wilson, they will not save any part of the $35.2 million.
The only exception would be if Wilson were to violate the team or league code of conduct. If that were to occur, the team could void the remaining guaranteed money and reclaim some of the signing bonuses.
If the Jets decide to move on from Wilson during his contract, the prorated signing bonus will accelerate onto their cap. That would happen in the season they released him or split between the next two seasons if done after June 1. If the Jets cut Wilson ahead of 2022, they would have approximately $29 million in dead money. That would be expected to drop to around $20.5 million in 2023 and $11 million in 2024.
When is Wilson eligible for an extension?
The Jets and Wilson cannot agree to a contract extension until after Wilson’s third year in the NFL. Therefore, Wilson will be eligible for an extension after the conclusion of the 2023 season. That 2024 offseason will be an intriguing one for Wilson and the 2021 NFL Draft class. Additionally, this is the time that the Jets will have to decide on whether to exercise Wilson’s fifth-year option or not.