Without new contract, Jets' Wilkerson focused on football
DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
Jul. 31, 2015
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Muhammad Wilkerson is frustrated and still wants a big payday. Until then, though, the New York Jets defensive end is keeping his contract situation off the field.
Wilkerson practiced with his teammates Thursday as the Jets opened training camp — despite seeking a long-term extension.
"I'm going to focus on the season," Wilkerson said after practice. "It's my job to go out and be competitive with my teammates and get ready for games on Sundays. Worrying about contract situation, that's a distraction for myself, as well as my teammates."
That means a new deal would either come before the start of the regular season or not until next offseason, when Wilkerson could become a free agent. He's entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, and is due to make $6.97 million this season.
Wilkerson acknowledged that his situation is "a little frustrating," but gave "no consideration" to staging a holdout this summer. His decision wasn't surprising, considering he stood to lose $30,000 per day of camp he skipped, per the league's collective bargaining agreement. But he also said his standing on the Jets was also a factor.
"I'm one of the leaders on this team, and it's the start of training camp," Wilkerson said. "My job is to get out here with my teammates and get ready for the season."
Wilkerson sat out all of the Jets' voluntary workouts during the offseason, sending a clear message to the front office that he's unhappy with his current deal. He attended mandatory minicamp, but it wasn't entirely certain he would show for training camp until he joined his teammates in reporting to the team's facility Wednesday.
Contracts signed this offseason by fellow defensive linemen Cameron Jordan and Corey Liuget — like Wilkerson, first-round picks in the 2011 draft — could serve as a blueprint for both sides. Jordan received a new deal from New Orleans that includes $34 million in guarantees, and Liuget got $30 million guaranteed from San Diego.
"Hopefully something happens," Wilkerson said. "I hope something is done. I guess you've got to ask (the Jets' front office) how they feel about things."
Wilkerson didn't go into detail about what the type of deal, in terms of money, he is seeking from the Jets.
The 25-year-old defensive end has 24½ sacks, a safety, seven forced fumbles and 14 passes defensed in his first four NFL seasons.
"This is going to be the first and last day that I answer questions about my contract," Wilkerson said.
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