The Jets failed to extend their star defensive lineman in the off-season and as a result, Wilkerson cut off any contract talk during the season, a stance that many NFL players take to ensure there are no distractions.
Wilkerson is set to become a free agent this off-season after playing out his rookie contract. He's currently enjoying one of the best seasons of his career, recording 7 sacks and 43 tackles, he's ferocious against the pass and dominant against the run, he is simply one of the best defensive lineman in the league.
Is he playing with a little extra motivation this year? Well maybe a little, as he explained to the NY Post
"I know that I'm underpaid right now and I'm gonna play like ... I'm somebody that needs to be paid."
Well he's certainly doing that. He will be looking for his pay-day, and he's earned it. He's outperformed his contract pretty much every single year so far. The biggest mistake the Jets can make, is to try and short change someone who's done everything he possibly can for the team. The contract negotiations in the off-season, didn't even get off the ground and Wilkerson's agent explains
"We probably spent a total of 30 seconds discussing them, because they weren't even worth discussing," agent Chad Wiestling said.
Wilkerson commented that he thought he was worth more than the Jets were offering. Before we start to panic, I'd like to say that I don't think Wilkerson will be playing anywhere but New York next season. If the Jets can't come to a long-term contract agreement, they can slap the franchise tag on him to give them more time. I also hope and believe that extending Mo will be the #1 priority
We have to consider that Sheldon Richardson is likely facing another suspension next season due to his July arrest. Leonard Williams is still largely unknown despite early positive signs. The Jets can also get out of the Antonio Cromartie contract to save a little more money towards a contract for Mo.
Is Wilkerson worried? He doesn't seem to be. He believes he's a top 3 defensive lineman in the league, and at times unblockable. Who wouldn't want someone like that on their team.
"Five years in, I feel like I learned a lot about how this business works," he said. "At the end of the day, I will be rewarded some way some how."
"Hopefully, thank God, I don't have any injuries or anything like that, but ... somebody'll pay me if the Jets don't," he said.