With no agreement on a long-term extension, Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will now play out the final year of his deal rather than continuing negotiations, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Last week, it was reported that the two sides were very far apart on terms for a new pact.
Wilkerson, 26 in October, skipped voluntary workouts and organized team activities because of stalled contract talks with the Jets. He would later admit that he was a “little frustrated” with the way negotiations were going, but he attended mandatory minicamp and training camp.
Wilkerson is set to earn $6.969MM this season, and the Jets could opt to franchise tag him in 2016. The Jets added even more leverage to the talks when they used the No. 6 overall pick in the draft to select USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, regarded by some as the best talent in this year’s class. However, the pendulum might have swung back the other way a bit when Sheldon Richardson was suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
As a 3-4 defensive end in a blitz-heavy scheme, Wilkerson isn’t in a position to put up large numbers in the traditional statistical categories, only notching 24 sacks in his four seasons, including a robust 10.5 in 2013. Still, advanced metric sites like Pro Football Focus (subscription required) have rated Wilkerson extremely highly, listing him as the second-best 3-4 defensive end in 2012 and third best in 2014. J.J. Watt was first both of those years, and Richardson was ranked second this past season. Accordingly, he was named a Pro Football Focus All-Pro in both of those seasons.
Over the summer, PFR’s Rob DiRe looked at Wilkerson as an extension candidate.