In an absolute shocker, the Jets announced that they have agreed to a buzzer-beating extension with Muhammad Wilkerson. The extension will pay him $86MM across five years, Of that sum, $37MM is fully guaranteed with $54MM coming to him over the next three years. In total, he has $53.5MM guaranteed for injury.
For weeks, we have been hearing that the Jets and Wilkerson were oceans apart on a new deal. In fact, Wilkerson lashed out at the team for what he perceived as general apathy from the front office:
“Do I feel that they want me back? As of right now, no. I don’t feel like they want me,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m a talented guy. Everybody knows that. I feel like they’re going to get the best they can out of me and just let me go. That’s how I feel. Do I like that feeling? No. I’m a New Jersey guy, born and raised and would love to raise my family here.”
With this deal, Wilkerson is now the third-highest paid defender in terms of average annual value ($17.2MM). Only Von Miller ($19.08MM) and Ndamukong Suh ($19.06MM) will earn more on a yearly basis. The Temple product slides ahead of Fletcher Cox ($17.1MM), Olivier Vernon ($17.0MM), Justin Houston ($16.8MM), and J.J. Watt ($16.7MM).
The $16.75MM in guarantees remaining after the first two years will kick in March 2018, which will give the Jets an interesting decision to make on Wilkerson’s future when the time comes. For now, the pact saves the Jets $5.701MM on this season’s cap, which could pave the way for a one-year deal with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Had the Jets not re-signed Wilkerson, they would have been carrying him at a $15.7MM cap number in 2016 under the franchise tender.
According to reports, Wilkerson was looking to match — or top — the six-year, $103MM extension inked by Cox in June. The Jets, meanwhile, were reportedly not willing to approach those terms, choosing instead to bank on their excellent crop of defensive lineman including Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, and free agent addition Steve McLendon. The Jets even shopped Wilkerson, but were unable to find a suitable trade partner.
Wilkerson, 26, enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2015, racking up a career-high 12 sacks and forcing three fumbles, to go along with 64 tackles. Arguably the best defensive player for the Jets last season, Wilkerson also earned his first Pro Bowl berth.
The Jets reportedly restarted negotiations with Wilkerson by way of an intriguing offer Wednesday night . New York then sent a revised offer via email to Wilkerson’s camp Friday at 3:15 a.m. After that, the two sides spent the entire day negotiating and came to an agreement just before the 4 p.m. ET deadline.
Details provided by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.