Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson says that Muhammad Wilkerson has informed him that he’ll be coming to the team’s mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson. Wilkerson has been away from the team in hopes of hammering out a new long-term contract.
“It’s a business; I guess it takes a long time,” Wilkerson said on Friday about the prospect of a long-term contract extension. “This is new to me. But, hopefully, something will get done soon.”
Wilkerson is entering his walk year and is presently due to make $6.9MM this year. If Wilkerson were to skip all three days of the minicamp, he would be fined more than $72K. It sounds like he is going to avoid that short-term hit while still pushing for long-term security. Wilkerson has maintained a positive attitude about remaining with Gang Green so far and presumably wants to familiarize himself with the schemes of new head coach Todd Bowles.
The former first-round pick from the 2011 NFL Draft has made a legitimate case for himself as the second best 3-4 defensive end in the league, after the possibly immortal J.J. Watt. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilkerson graded out as the second-best at his position in 2012 and third-best in 2014 (subscription required). Watt finished first in each of the past three seasons.
What complicates his contract situation is the player who finished second in Pro Football Focus’ grades last season, Wilkerson’s teammate and fellow first-round selection Richardson. Adding potential star Leonard Williams with the fifth-overall pick in this past NFL Draft hurt Wilkerson’ leverage even further.