2:26pm: Wilkerson intends to play out the final season of his deal if an agreement isn’t reached by the start of the regular season, according to sources who spoke with ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini.
1:14pm: The Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson are still at an impasse in contract negotiations, but the defensive lineman still plans to show up for training camp, a source told Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday. Practice begins Thursday for Gang Green.
Although the 25-year-old skipped voluntary workouts and organized team activities because of stalled contract talks, he attended mandatory minicamp earlier this summer. Back in June, he told reporters “If I have to play under my contract, then so be it.” It appears that he’s keeping his word, even though he’s disgruntled.
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.
Earlier this month, PFR’s Rob DiRe looked at Wilkerson as an extension candidate.