New York Jets: Pay Muhammad Wilkerson Now, Please


Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets defensive end

Muhammad Wilkerson

(96) laughs on the sideline during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong fans. I understand that this isn’t a big deal right now. It’s only April, I get that. But, do ever just get a vibe that something isn’t right? Well, I am getting that feeling about the Muhammad Wilkerson situation. I have that feeling in my gut that this isn’t going to work out right. I hope the feeling in my gut is just gas, because I really want to be wrong about this.

For anyone who missed it yesterday, the news began with this tweet from Jason La Canfora:

Jets star DL Muhammad Wilkerson is not reporting for start of the team’s offseason work today. Might not be around for a while. Stay tuned

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 6, 2015

Later on in the day, it was confirmed that Wilkerson was not at workouts. Articles came out, relating the absence, and the fact that he is looking for a new contract. Later on, a statement came out from Wilkerson’s agent, heard in these three consecutive tweets from La Canfora:

Statement from Chad Weisling, agent for Muhammad Wilkerson: Muhammad will not be attending the Jets Voluntary Workouts that began today …

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 6, 2015

More: Muhammad has been engaged in a workout program with his personal trainer since Feb., and believes that continuing with his current…

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 6, 2015

More Wilkerson: …program and believes that continuing with his current program will put him in the best physical shape for the 2015 season

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 6, 2015

Before I go on, remember this is just my opinion. I am not trying to stir things up, this is just one Jets fans views on what he has read to date. I hope beyond anything that I am wrong.

The statements from Wilkerson’s agent are to be expected. He is not going to declare war against the Jets management this early in the game. Besides anything else, any declaration of that nature would make Wilkerson look bad, making a big deal about his contract during voluntary workouts. So, I don’t believe that Wilkerson is not showing up purely because of his personal training program. The contract is an issue.

And I believe that Wilkerson’s contract situation is a bigger issue than either side is letting on. Why? Interesting circumstances. Remember Combine week? Reports had come out that Mike Maccagnan was meeting with Wilkerson’s agent to work on the contract. Nothing was done, and it could have been at that point. Now, it’s on the back burner? It makes sense on its face, as they have the draft to deal with, but look at Maccagnan’s entire quote from the season ticket holder conference call:

“The agent and Muhammad have their perspective and we’re going to have our point and at the end of the day – hopefully a middle ground that we’re both comfortable with,” he said. “Muhammad is a very good player. We would obviously like to keep him a Jet, but again that’s a whole other process that we have to go through and I don’t want to really get too deep into that at this point of time because that’s something that will work itself out in the near future.”

“The agent and Muhammad have their perspective and we’re going to have our point…” That says to me that, as Rich Cimini reported, are not close. If that’s the case, that’s scary. And if Wilkerson is ticked off, this might get ugly.

Whether Canfora is right or not, the Jets need to fix this. The Jets need Wilkerson more than he needs them.

Next: Wilkerson's Credentials

Aug 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback

Eli Manning

(10) steps to pass as New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) closes in during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

More from Jets News

With all due respect to Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, Muhammad Wilkerson is the straw that stirs the drink up front. Last season, the Jets took on the Steelers in week 10, which ended up being Wilkerson’s last full performance before injuring his toe. The Jets gave up 2.1 yards per carry on the ground. In weeks 13-15 without Wilkerson, here are their yards per carry average given up, 4.1, 4.1, and 3.2. Immediately, the Jets became worse against the run with Wilkerson on the sidelines.

Wilkerson has averaged 8.5 sacks over the last two seasons. His pass rushing productivity grade was 6.6, good for 10th in the league. His run stop percentage was 11.8%, second in the league at his position, and better than J.J. Watt. Watt got his new deal. According to Over the Cap, Wilkerson’s contract is good for 24th best at his position. He is vastly underpaid, as he is the best defensive end, not named J.J. Watt.

Wilkerson admitted to not having a new deal last season. Causing abrasion to your best player is not healthy. Resentment breeds a player that will not want to remain here. I think we all know what will happen if Wilkerson plays out his walk year. He will be gone, or he will be franchised. We have seen that players don’t like being given the franchise tag, as it takes away their chance to shop around for the highest bidder, which is the player’s right.

There is nothing to be gained by waiting. Yes, they need to get through the draft, but they can get this done too. If the Jets are going to pay him, they will do it now, or then. The big spending is over. The Jets still have room under the cap, it’s time to take care of their own.

As I said before, this isn’t terrible now. But it could get there. Just take care of Muhammad Wilkerson. Don’t be stupid. Just get it done, sooner rather than later. Please.

Next: Mock Draft: Jets Take Beasley and a Lineman

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