While the Jets’ stare down with Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting all of the publicity, the team also has an ugly situation brewing with star defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson won’t sign his franchise-tag tender anytime soon and might not report for the start of training camp in late July, sources tell Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.
Players typically are subject to fines if they skip June’s mandatory minicamp. However, since Wilkerson has yet to ink his tender, he is in a loophole in which he cannot be docked salary. In fact, Wilkerson could show up as late as Week 1, sign his tender, and still earn his full salary.
It should also be noted that the 26-year-old is still rehabbing a surgically repaired broken leg, so he wouldn’t have been able to practice anyway in minicamp. Still, Cimini writes that Wilkerson abstaining from minicamp would change the tenor of talks, taking them from ugly to contentious.
Adding fuel to the fire is the newly-inked extension between the Eagles and star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Cox’s deal will reportedly pay him $103MM over six years with $63MM guaranteed. Of the $63MM in guarantees, $36.299MM is fully guaranteed at the time of signing and, for all intents and purposes, it seems to be a mortal lock that he will see at least $55.549MM of that money. After Cox secured the biggest guarantee for a non-quarterback in league history, Wilkerson is surely even more focused on his own payday.
The Jets have explored trading Wilkerson in the past but, so far, they have been unable to find a suitable deal. Cimini writes that the team has not ruled out the possibility of tagging him again next year at a salary of $18.8MM, though I believe that could just be posturing by the Jets.
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