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Jets DE Wilkerson skips start of offseason program

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New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, seeking a new contract, is skipping the start of the voluntary offseason workout programs.

Jets coach Todd Bowles opened his first offseason program Monday without Wilkerson, according to reports. The Jets don’t have a mandatory event until June 9, their second minicamp.

Wilkerson played last season for only $1.2 million and is due to make $6.969 million in 2015, the amount of his fifth-year option. The Jets exercised the option last spring.

The Jets’ first-round pick in 2011, Wilkerson has established himself as one of the league’s top defensive linemen.

According to ESPN.com, the two sides have been talking on and off for about a year but have never been close to a deal. The Jets changed general managers after the season, replacing John Idzik with Mike Maccagnan.

Maccagnan last week suggested Wilkerson’s contract situation will not be a priority until after the NFL draft.

“Muhammad has another year to go on his contract,” Maccagnan said. “That’s something we’re going to discuss here in the offseason at some point in time with him. Obviously, for us, first we’re going to work ourselves through the draft process. After that, that’s something we’re going to address going forward. I think for a lot of these things, it may be a process.

“Obviously, the agent and Muhammad have their perspective. We’re going to have our point, and at the end of the day, hopefully find a middle ground we’re both comfortable with. Muhammad is a very good player. I’d like to keep him a Jet.”

In 2014, Wilkerson totaled 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 13 games. In four seasons, he has 236 tackles and 24 sacks.


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