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What will Sam Darnold’s rookie contract cost the Jets?

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There used to be a day where the rookie contracts of high Draft picks were complicated and difficult to negotiate. Those days are largely over. The rookie wage scale that came in with the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement essentially set the money for each pick in stone.

What will Sam Darnold’s rookie deal look like for the Jets? Over the Cap has an estimate of every rookie deal for 2018 picks.

And here you see why so many analysts talk about the value of a rookie quarterback contract. If Darnold pans out, the Jets get a quality player at the game’s most important position at a big discount.

Here’s the best way to look at it. It costs a lot more than this to sign a quarterback on the open market. What does a quality quarterback cost? Kirk Cousins will carry an average cap hit of $28 million per year during his time with the Vikings. So let’s just say hypothetically Darnold turns out to be as good as Cousins. The Jets would get the same caliber of play and have around $20 million more to upgrade other parts of the roster. If Darnold turns out to be better than Cousins, it gets even better.

There are still certain things that will need to be negotiated such as the timing of some bonus payments and what types of offsets could be included in the deal in the event Darnold is cut. I don’t expect the Jets to take a hard line with the guy they want to be the face of the franchise, nor should they over such small matters.

Darnold’s deal will also come with a team option for the fifth year, although a quarterback picked third overall doesn’t have the same type of surplus value on a fifth year option others do.