While all eyes focus on the Ryan Fitzpatrick contract dispute currently raging since free agency began in March, there’s another New York Jets player that has begun to voice his displeasure over not being offered a long-term deal.
As reported by the NY Post, Jets Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson hasn’t been offered a long term deal from the team and doesn’t think one is coming either. Suffice to say, Wilkerson is not happy with how he’s been treated.
“It’s shocking. It’s frustrating,” Wilkerson told The Post in an exclusive interview. “Because I feel like I’ve earned it and I deserve it. It would be different if I was just a mediocre player. I feel like each and every week I’m dominating and it’s showing. The stats speak for themselves. Basically, what more do I need to do? You know what I mean?”
The New York Jets fan base does. The management? Not so much. That being said, as detailed by Newsday, the Jets have a legitimate reason for not doling out the cash to Wilkerson, instead opting to franchise him for the upcoming season: they don’t have the cap space to do much of anything at the moment.
“I don’t blame Wilkerson for asking for as much as he can for as long as he can,” columnist Bob Glauber writes. “And I don’t blame the Jets for not paying him, at least not Watt money. Why? Because Wilkerson isn’t close to the player Watt is.”
Glauber continued, outlining why Wilkerson’s demands may be a bit of a stretch.
“Wilkerson is a very good player, with 36.5 sacks in five seasons, including 12 in 2015. But Watt is a historically great player who will wind up in the Hall of Fame. He has 76 sacks and has won The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award three of the last four seasons…They’re not in the same conversation.”
And that is the general consensus around the league. However, it should also be noted that Fletcher Cox, another defensive lineman in the NFL who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, just signed a monster deal that could set a benchmark for what Wilkerson’s people believe he should be paid.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fletcher inked a $103 million contract with the team. His numbers, when lined up with Muhammad, are eerily similar. That alone has left Wilkerson fielding questions over his future. And with no deadline looming, it looks as if it will continue.
As reported by ESPN, training camp in July is the next big mark on the calendar for both squads and it’s undetermined at this point whether Muhammad will be a no-show or not.
“I’m not going to answer that question right now because there’s no deal in place,” the New York Jets defensive end said. “Nobody knows what can happen.”
Wilkerson reiterated his frustration.
“I feel like I deserve a new deal, but I understand it’s a business,” he said. “My focus right now is rehabbing the leg and getting ready. I’m surprised, frustrated, but what can I do? What can I say?”
The Jets themselves, as mentioned previously, are a bit cap-strapped at the moment. Wilkerson can take their insistence on avoiding a long-term contract personally or recognize it for what it is. The Jets simply can’t afford anyone at the moment – not even their starting quarterback from a year ago who set team records for touchdowns and yardage.
So until the Ryan Fitzpatrick situation gets worked out, it looks like Muhammad Wilkerson will continue to watch things unfold from the sidelines. Just how long that will be is anyone’s guess.
[Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images]