Should Jets be concerned top-2 draft picks remain unsigned heading into training camp?

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Every few years, it seems the New York Jets go through this sort of thing with their draft picks. Every year it seemingly gets resolved. 

As New York is set to begin training camp Wednesday, they’ll do so with both of their top draft choices this past year being unsigned. 15th overall pick Will McDonald IV, and second-round center Joe Tippmann have not agreed to terms with the team on their rookie contracts. 

It’s not known why Gang Green has been unable to agree to deals for their first two selections in this previous draft, but it’s important to note that the salary given to first-round and second-round picks is pre-determined due to the most recently-signed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). What rookies can negotiate is the level of guarantees and bonuses that are offered in their first NFL deal. It’s a problem that has plagued the Jets before. After drafting Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick, the Jets did not get a deal done with him until the end of July. Other young players like Breece Hall and Zach Wilson also took their time to sign their rookie deals with the club. 

Jets - Quinnen Williams
FILE – New York Jets’ Quinnen Williams speaks to reporters after a practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, N.J., May 24, 2022. Williams and the Jets have agreed, Thursday, July 13, 2023, to a four-year contract extension worth $96 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)AP Photos

Unlike the previous names listed, McDonald and Tippmann are not guaranteed starting roles this season. They were drafted to bolster the current depth of their position while expecting to be starters down the road. If they end up missing valuable practice time though, they may not be able to see a lot of game action to start their NFL careers.

That’s something the Jets may not be able to afford to start the year if they suffer any injuries during training camp. There also has not been an indication of whether or not both McDonald or Tipmann will report to camp until their deals are signed. 

McDonald is an explosive, pliable edge talent out of Iowa State that was one of the most celebrated pass rushers coming out of the draft. Tippmann on the other hand, is built to play in different offensive systems with the athleticism and size to compete against NFL starters. While both players were seen as projects, both are expected to thrive in New York’s system.

McDonald is one of seven first-round picks yet to sign their rookie contract while Tippmann is one of 12 second-rounders. 

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