Sauce Gardner Gets Blunt About His Long-Term Future With Jets

Sauce Gardner, Jets

Getty New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner interacting with quarterback Aaron Rodgers ahead of an NFL game.

Sauce Gardner made his stance very clear on his preferred future with the New York Jets.

Gardner took to social media to say, “I wanna be a New York Jet for the rest of my career.”

It’s unclear what prompted this response. Gardner, 23, is entering his third professional season in 2024. After this upcoming year, Gardner will become eligible to speak with the Jets about a long-term deal for the first time in his career.

Sauce Gardner Is Set to Receive a Historic Extension

The Jets made Gardner the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. Rookie deals are slotted in the big leagues so there was no negotiation required for his first contract.

Gardner signed a four-year deal for $33.4 million and the Jets will have a fifth-year option to make on his contract next offseason. If they accept it, he will be under team control for at least the next two seasons through 2026. If they decline it, Gardner would become a free agent after the 2025 campaign.

How much that fifth-year option is worth depends on playing time, one Pro Bowl, or multiple Pro Bowls.

Gardner through two seasons has already punched in two Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro campaigns. The fifth-year option for 2021 first-round cornerbacks that have achieved the maximum amount of variables is $19.8 million.

Pro Football Focus graded Gardner as the No. 1 cornerback in the NFL following the 2023 season.

Gardner with that ranking and other accolades could make a strong case that he should be the highest paid at his position.

According to Over The Cap, Green Bay Packers star Jaire Alexander holds the title with a $21 million per year average. Alexander is in the midst of a four-year deal for $84 million.

That could be the starting point for the negotiations next offseason to lock in Gardner on a multi-year deal.

Jets Have to Get on Top of This

Technically speaking the Jets don’t have to pay Gardner next offseason. They could accept his fifth-year option next year and play the franchise tag game which would keep him under team control for the foreseeable future.

However, there are plenty of current examples that say that isn’t a good idea.

Gregg Rosenthal of the NFL Media group highlighted the Dallas Cowboys as a recent bad example of what happens when you choose to wait.

Dallas waited on Dak Prescott and it cost them on his first big contract which has leaked into this second one. Both CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons are due big top-of-the-market deals.

A first-world problem of having multiple guys to pay can quickly turn into a nightmare if you let it.

The Jets have plenty of difficult decisions to make next offseason.

They have nine starters that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents:

In addition to those names, all of Gardner’s 2022 draft teammates are also eligible for new deals. That list includes Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, and Breece Hall.

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