The Jets famously feuded with their best player over his contract in recent years with the whole Darrelle Revis saga. Could they be heading down that road again? Star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is eligible for a contract extension after having just completed his third season, but like all 2011 first-round picks he might be facing a fight with his team. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement limited rookie contracts to four years, but gave teams an option for a fifth year on first-round picks. The belief at the time by most was the salary in the option year would be high enough to make it smarter for teams to give players long-term deals. But now the numbers look good for the teams and bad for the players. In Wilkerson’s case, his fifth-year option, which would be for the 2015 season, is expected to be around $6 million. Wilkerson is scheduled to make about $1.2 million in 2014, meaning the Jets could hold onto Wilkerson, an All-Pro player, for $7.2 million over the next two years — a bargain. If you want to take it even further, they could franchise tag him in 2016 at a number that will probably be about $12 million. So, three years at $19.2 million and the Jets would have controlled the first six years of Wilkerson’s career. Neither the Jets nor Wilkerson’s camp is saying anything right now. But in talking to people around the league the expectation is the Jets (and nearly every other team) will exercise the fifth-year option and then negotiate with the players. The options must be exercised by May 3. Since this is the first draft class to go through this process, agents and executives are curious to see how it all plays out. Some believe the only leverage the players have is to stage a training camp holdout to force teams to negotiate new deals. On “Pro Football Talk Live” this week Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, a 2011 first-rounder, said he would not rule out a holdout. Wilkerson has said nothing publicly about his contract, but a holdout would be tough for him. He would face fines of $30,000 a day, which would add up quickly if the team holds strong and his salary is $1.2 million this year. A 20-day holdout wipe out half his salary.
Jets, Wilkerson may come to a head over contract
New York Post | Feb 6