Frustrated Wilkerson uncertain if he'll report for Jets camp
LINDEN, N.J. (AP) Uncertainty is the only sure thing for Muhammad Wilkerson these days.
The New York Jets' disgruntled defensive end is in a contract dispute with the team, unsure if he'll ever get the long-term extension he desires from the Jets.
''Yeah, I'm surprised, frustrated,'' Wilkerson said Friday night, reiterating his comments to the New York Post in a story published Thursday. ''But what can I do? What can I say?''
Wilkerson had a career-high 12 sacks last season and was selected for his first Pro Bowl, but was unable to play after breaking his right leg in the Jets' season finale at Buffalo. He has been asking for a new deal for the past two years, but Wilkerson received the franchise tag this offseason and has yet to sign his tender, which is worth $15.7 million.
''It's out there and I feel like I deserve it, you know, a deal,'' Wilkerson said at his Strikes For Scholarships charity bowling event at Jersey Lanes. ''I understand it's a business, but my focus right now is just rehabbing the leg and getting ready.''
Wilkerson was at the Jets' facility during minicamp this week, but didn't practice as he continues to work his way back from the injury. He said he has been running for ''several weeks,'' but is unsure whether he will be healthy enough to practice at the start of training camp. He's not technically on the roster because he hasn't signed his tender, so he wouldn't have been penalized for not participating in the mandatory practices.
The two sides have a July 15 deadline, however, to complete a new deal or Wilkerson would have to play out this season under the amount of the tag. That is, if he shows up at all. He could choose to hold out of training camp, making an already increasingly tense situation worse.
''I'm not going to answer that question right now because there's no deal in place,'' he said. ''Nobody knows what will happen.''
Philadelphia signed Fletcher Cox to a six-year, $103 million extension earlier this week, just the latest defensive lineman this offseason to receive big bucks. Meanwhile, Wilkerson is still waiting.
''I'm happy for those guys,'' he said. ''But I know what I deserve.''
When asked point blank if he thinks a deal with the Jets will get done, Wilkerson shrugged.
''I hope so,'' he said, ''but I can't answer that question. They can.''
Wilkerson, drafted in the first round by the Jets out of Temple in 2011, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and raised in Linden. He maintains close ties with his old neighborhood, holding several charity events throughout the year.
''I think I'm a positive role model, growing up here in Linden,'' Wilkerson said. ''Just always giving back, that's something I've watched my Mom do in her field of work, being a social worker. That was instilled in me, to always give back and help out the youth in the community.''
A few current and former Jets teammates joined Wilkerson at his event, including Dee Milliner, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Damon Harrison - who's now a member of the Giants.
''That's my brother,'' Wilkerson said with a smile. ''We fought in the trenches. So, no matter where he's at, that's going to be my brother.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP-NFL