FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It never should have lasted as long as it did, and it probably could have been done easily three months ago, but at least the Jets and Sam Darnold finally resolved their differences and settled on a deal.
And it looks like a win-win with each side getting a little of what it wanted before the holdout began.
Everyone has long known the basics: It's a four-year, fully guaranteed deal worth $30.25 million, with a $20 million signing bonus and a fifth-year team option. Here's how Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and Darnold's agent, Jimmy Sexton, ironed out the other issues that were holding up the deal, according to a source familiar with the contract talks:
The Jets seemed pretty adamant about not giving in on this issue, and in the end they got what they wanted. There is "offset language" in Darnold's deal, according to the source. That means that if the Jets cut Darnold before the end of his contract and he signs with another team, the Jets can deduct what the other team pays him from what they still owe him.
The Jets had insisted on what they consider to be standard language (for them) that would allow them to void the remaining guarantees in Darnold's deal if he was suspended or fined by the NFL. Darnold's agent objected to the "fines" part of that clause, which is unusual (though far from unprecedented). In the end, the Jets took the "fines" part out, but they can still void his guarantees if he's ever suspended by the league.
Signing bonus payout
In a very unusual move, the Jets agreed to pay Darnold's $20 million signing bonus immediately (within 15 days, according to ProFootballTalk.com). Most teams defer at least part of it until the second year.
In another unusual move, the Jets agreed to guarantee the roster bonuses in each of the final three years of his contract, even if he begins the season on the non-football injury list.
So the Jets got what they seemed to want the most: the "offset language." But Darnold got some pretty big concessions too (although the forfeiture language doesn't seem likely to ever come into play). The compromise left both sides seemingly happy.
Most importantly, it allowed Darnold to get into camp and get to work.