According to reports, New York Jets rookie running back Breece Hall is expected to sign his rookie four-year contract on Tuesday afternoon. It’s especially notable because the Jets’ rookie class will report to training camp on Tuesday. Hall was previously expected to be absent from camp while his contract situation loomed large, which would have cost him crucial reps. The Jets’ ability to get Hall under contract at the 11th hour represents a huge victory for all parties involved.
It’s worth explaining what the hangup was. Rookie contracts are typically rather straightforward under the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), but Jets General Manager Joe Douglas apparently has the Houston Texans to blame for Hall’s complicated contract situation. The Texans selected Jalen Pitre with the No. 37 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, just one pick after Hall. Texans General Manager Nick Caserio awarded Pitre with a rookie contract that contains a fully-guaranteed third season. Last year, Hall’s slot (pick 36) only received 58% of his third-season salary guaranteed.
Rookie contracts often follow precedent and Caserio’s decision to break that precedent created a temporary roadblock for the Jets and Hall’s representation. The three players selected in front of Hall and Pitre (Logan Hall, Christian Watson, and Roger McCreary) remain unsigned for identical reasons, but Hall’s deal could help clear the way for those contracts to be resolved shortly.
To say the Jets are banking on immediate contributions from Hall is an understatement. Running backs are a devalued position nowadays, and selecting one at the top of the second round typically indicates the player is slotted into a starting role. Now that Hall has signed his contract and will report to training camp, it’s officially all systems go for Hall in the Jets’ new-look backfield.
Douglas and the Jets entered the 2022 draft with a sizable need at running back after the 5-foot-8 Michael Carter proved to be a more productive pass-catching back than a traditional three-down ball carrier as a rookie. Over his final 10 games in 2021, Carter hauled in 30 receptions on 44 targets. Hall is expected to handle early-down duties for the Jets going forward.
Hall’s participation at training camp feels mandatory for an offense that aims to be significantly more productive this season. The Jets feature a second-year quarterback in Zach Wilson, a couple rookie/sophomore wide receivers, and new starters across the offensive line. July and August represent crucial chemistry-building months and Hall’s participation from the beginning of camp will allow him to build mutual trust with his fellow young starters.
In order for Hall to truly seize the role the Jets’ brass envision him playing, he needed to be present at training camp from the very beginning while receiving both the mental and physical reps the coaches had planned for him. Rookies that miss time at training camp, whether via contract disputes or injury, are more likely to struggle throughout their first campaign. An extended absence would have greatly hampered Hall’s ability to make the desired immediate impact in New York’s retooled backfield. The Jets have wisely avoided that potential outcome.
Douglas and the Jets made an aggressive draft-day trade with the New York Giants in order to move up and select Hall. That trade included a swap of second-round selections while the Jets parted with an additional fifth-round pick. The Jets’ appreciation for Hall didn’t come as a surprise. On paper, Hall’s disciplined, patient approach and advanced footwork make him a natural fit for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s zone-based running scheme.
The Jets’ general manager and coaching staff want Hall to seize the reins as their lead ball carrier. Head coach Robert Saleh and LaFleur aim to field a more successful rushing attack in 2022 than the one that averaged under 100 rushing yards per contest last season (98.1 yards per game, the 27th-ranked rushing offense). All parties involved are expecting Hall to lead the Jets’ backfield to improvement. Resolving Hall’s rookie contract in time for training camp moves the needle in the right direction.
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