Mo shows: Frustrated Wilkerson reports for Jets minicamp
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Muhammad Wilkerson is back with his teammates, even though he’s not happy about his contract situation.
The New York Jets defensive end reported for the team’s mandatory minicamp Tuesday despite still looking for a long-term extension that he expected to be taken care of by now.
“I’m frustrated, yeah,” Wilkerson said before practice. “I thought that a deal would be made, but at the end of the day, it’s a business. These things take time.”
Wilkerson had stayed away from the team’s facility during voluntary workouts and practices while looking for a new deal. He is in the last year of his rookie contract and is due to make $6.9 million this season, but said there’s “no timeline” on talks for a new deal.
When asked if he would entertain thoughts of holding out of training camp next month, Wilkerson said bluntly: “I’m not answering that question.”
New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan recently got a new contract that included $34 million in guarantees. Wilkerson raised some eyebrows shortly after that deal was announced when he wrote on Twitter: “Yup. I see how this works.”
Wilkerson declined to elaborate on that comment, but added that the media “has to find a story; you guys make up things.”
San Diego defensive tackle Corey Liuget is also working to finalize a big extension with the Chargers. Wilkerson, Jordan and Liuget were all first-round picks in the 2011 draft.
“I’m happy for those guys that they got their new deals,” Wilkerson said, “and it’s good to see that their teams are taking care of them.”
Wilkerson stood to lose more than $72,000 if he missed all three days of minicamp, but insisted that didn’t factor into the decision made by him and agent Chad Wiestling over the weekend.
“I wasn’t concerned about no fines at all,” Wilkerson said.
Wiestling said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press that he and Wilkerson deliberated over the decision.
“Mo is and has always been a team-first player, and is willing to put the team ahead of his own contractual status,” Wiestling said. “Mo loves being a member of the Jets and would prefer to finish his career in New York.”
Despite the murky status, Wilkerson says he’s “confident” a new deal will happen, but adds that if he has to play this season with his current deal, “so be it.”
Wilkerson said last week at a charity event that the turf toe injury that hampered him at the end of last season was healed, but he said Tuesday he needed to talk to the trainer about how much he could practice because it was still bothering him a little bit.
Coach Todd Bowles said it “didn’t look like” Wilkerson’s toe limited him.
“It may have,” Bowles said, “but it looked like he moved pretty good to me.”
Wilkerson worked out during his absence while staying in touch with several of his teammates, getting the basics down on Bowles’ defense.
“I didn’t know if he would or wouldn’t be here,” Bowles said. “It was great to see him back. He weighed in well.”
Bowles also joked about cutting Wilkerson a break since they both went to the same university and grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“He’s a Temple guy and he’s from my hometown, so he gets special privileges anyway,” a smiling Bowles said. “But it was good to see him out there.”
Wilkerson opened practice working with the starting defense — as Bowles had indicated he would. Wilkerson said he hadn’t sat down yet with Bowles, but had seen him around the facility Tuesday.
“It definitely felt good to be back in the building,” Wilkerson said, “and meet new faces and new coaches and everything.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had his own contract issues during his first stint with the Jets, said all players have to handle the business side of football as they see fit.
“Mo’s here, he’s our teammate and we love him,” Revis said. “His representatives are giving him the best advice. There’s other guys on the other 31 teams that might be in the same situation. Everybody has their own situation.”
NOTES: Rookie WR Devin Smith, the team’s second-round draft pick, was the only no-show. He was excused by the team, Bowles said, while he awaits the birth of a child. ... TE Jace Amaro tweaked his back in practice last Wednesday, and spent the opening session of minicamp in the trainers’ area. Bowles doesn’t expect it to be a long-term injury. ... CB Dee Milliner, coming back from a torn Achilles that wiped out most of last season, laughed off suggestions by some fans and media that he’s a first-round bust. Milliner was drafted No. 9 overall in 2013. “Man, let them talk,” he said. “Let them label me as they want to label me. I didn’t get to this point for being a bust.”
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