New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, upset about contract negotiations (or lack thereof) is reportedly considering a training camp holdout.
“Unhappy that he still doesn’t have a long-term contract, Wilkerson won’t sign his franchise-tag tender anytime soon and might not report for the start of training camp in late July, sources said Monday,” writes Rich Cimini or ESPN.com.
Wilkerson has been seeking a new contract for the past two years, to no avail. He broke his leg last year and is still rehabbing at this time, but he’s expected to be fully healthy for the 2016 season. After racking up 28 sacks the past three years, he’s one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL, and he wants to get paid like one.
Watching other top defensive linemen get paid crazy money has only made Wilkerson more upset at his current situation with the Jets. Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox raked in a massive six-year deal Monday worth up to $103 million with $63 million guaranteed.
Cimini reports the Jets haven’t come close to offering Wilkerson a deal of that magnitude, which is why he has no intention of signing his $15.7 million franchise tender. Even more galling to Wilkerson is the fact that, per Cimini, the Jets have not ruled out another franchise tag designation for 2017, which would pay him $18.8 million.
While it’s easy to say Wilkerson should be fine with accepting a scenario in which he’d earn $34.5 million fully guaranteed for two years of work, that number pales in comparison to what he’d land on a long-term deal. Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is in a similar situation (more on that here), and his team is just as stubbornly refusing to bend to his demands.
Where these two differ is that the Broncos have nobody on the roster to compare to Miller, whereas the Jets have Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson at the same position as Wilkerson. While New York would love to have him on the roster, it wouldn’t be in deep trouble if he isn’t there.
This situation isn’t likely to resolve any time soon. Now it’s going to be up to Wilkerson to either accept his fate and sign the franchise tag or follow through with his threat to hold out.