We should have known when the dark clouds started to form a few hours before the first practice of training camp for the Jets that it wasn’t going to be a perfect beginning to the new season.
The clouds led to lightning and the lightning to thunderstorms that chased the players inside, disappointing fans who had planned to attend the first public workout.
It got worse when rookie quarterback Sam Darnold officially began his Jets career as a holdout after not signing his rookie contract. Just that quickly, all the optimism surrounding the Jets has been pierced by the uncertainty of when the third overall selection in this year’s NFL draft will attend his first practice. Same Old Jets.
Look, there’s plenty of blame to share for Darnold, the heralded USC quarterback, missing the first day of training camp. But it’s a bad look for the Jets when the holdout is over language about what happens if the player who is supposed to be your franchise quarterback is released. It sounds more like a prenup than a rookie contract.
Darnold’s experienced agent, Jimmy Sexton, wants a deal with no offsets, which would allow the quarterback to receive his entire Jets salary while getting paid by another team if the Jets release him. The Jets want an offset so Darnold won’t be allowed to double-dip.
You can understand the Jets wanting to protect themselves knowing Darnold’s contract slotted to be worth an estimated $30.2 million will be fully guaranteed, but his ability to be a franchise quarterback isn’t. It would seem what’s good enough for Baker Mayfield, the first quarterback pick in the draft, and Josh Allen, who has Sexton as agent, should be good enough for Darnold. Mayfield and Allen both have contracts that include offsets.
You would have thought Darnold wanted to be there at the start of camp to enhance his chances of being the starting quarterback for the season opener in Detroit. You would have thought he wanted to show the Jets were his team now. Instead, all of that is on hold now. The Jets are still Josh McCown’s team.
“He’s going through the business side of the sport,” McCown said of Darnold. “We understand that. We wish him the best.”
Each training camp day is like dog years. You study in the morning, practice in the afternoon, then study some more. Rain on Friday might have pushed practice inside, but the Jets seemed to touch every aspect of what they learned in OTAs. They worked on the running game, passing game, stretch blocking, checking off plays as well as individual technique drills. The players competed and encouraged each other. With as few practices as there are in training camp, every session is valuable.