Muhammad Wilkerson addresses contract situation with Jets

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Saturday, June 6, 2015

LINDEN, N.J. -- New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason in the midst of a contract dispute, is poised to return to the team for its mandatory minicamp next week.

Wilkerson, addressing his contract situation for the first time since December, said Friday night that he will make a decision over the weekend on whether to attend the minicamp. Nevertheless, there are strong indications he will be there.

"It's a business; I guess it takes a long time," Wilkerson said of a long-term contract extension. "This is new to me. But, hopefully, something will get done soon."

Talks are moving slowly.

The Jets say they want to lock up Wilkerson, but the two sides have talked only sporadically. Wilkerson, entering the final year of his contract, is due to make $6.97 million -- the amount of his fifth-year option.

"I just thought, you work hard on the field and do what you have to do on and off the field, and that's how you're supposed to get rewarded," said Wilkerson, who spoke to reporters at his charity bowling event in his hometown.

Wilkerson declined to explain why he has been a no-show for two months. He took a matter-of-fact tone, refusing to acknowledge he's upset. At the same time, he didn't seem particularly optimistic about a new deal.

The Jets gained leverage by drafting defensive end Leonard Williams with the sixth overall pick. Wilkerson said he has nothing against Williams, adding, "He was the best available pick. I definitely look forward to working with him and playing with him in the trenches."

Wilkerson said he was aware of the trade rumors before and during the draft. He said the prospect of getting trade -- albeit unlikely -- doesn't faze him.

"Not at all," he said. "If I was to get traded ... of course, I'm a New Jersey guy, I want to be here. But if that's the case, if I were to get traded, there's nothing I can do about it."

Wilkerson has been working out with personal trainers in Atlanta and Maryland. He has kept in touch with teammates, going over play and defensive schemes with them. The Jets are installing a new system under coach Todd Bowles.