Quinnen Williams missed the first training camp practice of his NFL career on Thursday, but he won't miss any more.
Williams, the third overall pick in the NFL draft, officially agreed to terms on a four-year, $32.6 million contract on Thursday afternoon, just hours after the Jets held their first training camp practice without him. He was supposed to report last week with the rest of the Jets rookies, but his deal was being held up by a squabble over how his $21.6 million signing bonus would be paid.
The Jets wanted to defer a significant amount of that of that bonus until 2020, but Williams wanted it all paid before the end of 2019. In the end, they reached a compromise, according to a source: Williams will get 75 percent of his bonus when he signs his deal, and 25 percent of it will be deferred until next year.
Now the plan is for him to report by Friday morning, sign his deal and take the field with his teammates.
Even after the Jets' top pick didn't report with the rest of his teammates on Wednesday, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn't seem concerned with his absence at all.
"This is the norm," Gase said. "This happens when you get Top 5 picks. It takes time to go through this sometimes. We'll be alright. When he gets here, he'll get here."
Rookie holdouts, even for a few days, are increasingly unusual in the NFL, since for the most part deals are fully guaranteed and the amounts are slotted. But the payment schedule of the signing bonus is one of the few negotiation obstacles, and the Jets were insisting on paying Williams only a portion of his signing bonus this year. The exact amount they wanted to defer was not clear, but one source described it as less than half, but a higher percentage than Top 10 picks are usually asked to defer.
Williams wanted it all in 2019, mostly for tax purposes, according to a source. He's currently a resident of Alabama, where the tax hit would be smaller, and by 2020 he'll be a resident of New Jersey. He was willing to defer some of the money for several months, a source said, as long as it's all paid by the end of the year.
Deferring part of a signing bonus is not at all unusual in the NFL, especially for draft picks. The Jets did pay quarterback Sam Darnold his full, $20.1 million signing bonus immediately last year, but have deferred at least some money for most of their first-round picks in the recent past.
Regardless, it was still an odd stance for the Jets, considering they were recently estimated to be worth $2.85 billion, according to Forbes magazine, making them one of the most valuable sports franchises on the planet. They have plenty of room under the salary cap, too, so that isn't the issue. It may simply have been about not breaking precedent, but even that wasn't clear.
Whatever the reason was, the stalemate is over now, and the 6-3, 303-pound Williams will be on the field with his teammates for practice on Day 2.