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NY Jets: Wilkerson's Contract

Let's see if we can piece together the structure of the Wilkerson deal.

Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

Muhammad Wilkerson signed a new five year, $86 million deal with the NY Jets yesterday.  As the day wore on details of the deal slowly leaked out.  Let's see if we can piece together the structure of the deal based on the details that have been leaked so far.

At this point the following details have been reported:

1. The new contract is for five years and a total of $86 million.

2.  There is a signing bonus of $15 million.

3.  Wilkerson's cap hit for 2016 has been reduced by $5.7 million.

4. Wilkerson will receive a fully guaranteed $37 million in the first two years of the contract.

5.  Wilkerson will receive a guaranteed for injury $54 million in the first three years of the contract.

From these five facts, if they are accurate as currently reported, we can piece together most of the relevant details of Mo's contract.  Let's start with the $15 million signing bonus and the reduction of the 2016 cap hit by $5.7 million.  The $15 million signing bonus will be prorated evenly over the five years of the contract, meaning each of the years from 2016 through 2020 will see a $3 million cap hit from the signing bonus.   We also know the 2016 total cap hit has been reduced to $10 million from the previous franchise tag cap hit of $15.7 million.  From this we can deduce that in 2016 Mo likely has $7 million in guaranteed base salary plus the $3 million prorated signing bonus = a $10 million 2016 cap hit.

Now let's talk about 2017.  We know Mo will get $37 million in fully guaranteed money in 2016 and 2017 combined.  We have already seen that Mo will receive $15 million in a signing bonus and $7 million in guaranteed base salary = $22 million in fully guaranteed money in 2016. From this we can deduce the Mo will receive an additional $15 million in guaranteed base salary in 2017, to bring the two year total of guaranteed money to $37 million.  That makes Mo's cap hit for 2017 $3 million in pro rata signing bonus + $15 million in guaranteed base salary = an $18 million cap hit for 2017.

We can proceed from there to 2018. We know Mo will receive $37 million in fully guaranteed money in the first two years, and we know he will receive $54 million in guaranteed for injury money in the first three years.  From this we can deduce Mo will receive a base salary of $54 million - $37 million = $17 million in 2018, which will be guaranteed for injury but not for skill.  That will make Mo's cap hit for 2018 $3 million in pro rata signing bonus + $17 million in base salary = $20 million in 2018.

So far we have accounted for facts numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 from the above list.  Now we deal with fact number 1:  the deal is for five years and $86 million.  We have seen that the cap hits for the first three years are $10 million, $18 million and $20 million, respectively.  The total cap hit for 2016 through 2018 = $10 million + $18 million + $20 million = $48 million.  That leaves $86 million - $48 million = $38 million in cap hits to be accounted for in the last two years of the contract.  For the sake of simplicity we'll assume the cap hit will be spread evenly over the final two years, so each of 2019 and 2020 will have a $19 million cap hit.  We know that each of those years has a pro rata signing bonus cap hit of $3 million.  That leaves $16 million in non-guaranteed base salary for each of the last two years, for total cap hits of $19 million in each of 2019 and 2020.

Putting it all together, the contract looks something like the following.  * Denotes fully or partially guaranteed money.  Keep in mind that some of the money designated as base salary here might instead be in the form of roster bonuses or workout bonuses, but that shouldn't significantly alter the basic structure in terms of guaranteed money and cap hits for each year.  The final two years might also not be completely equal, bit it is likely they will be fairly close to equal, so our final structure should be very close to accurate.  Here's what the contract should look like, assuming the details leaked so far are accurate:






Cap Hit

Dead Money

If Cut



$15 Mil*

$7 Mil*

$10 Mil

$37 Mil


$15 Mil*

$18 Mil

$27 Mil


$17 Mil*

$20 Mil

$9 Mil


$16 Mil

$19 Mil

$6 Mil


$16 Mil

$19 Mil

$3 Mil

Note that in 2018 the Jets incur $9 million in dead  money if Wilkerson is cut or traded.  In 2018 Sheldon Richardson will either need to be paid or traded.  Although $9 million is a bit of a tough pill to swallow, the Jets can, if necessary, afford to cut or trade Wilkerson in order to pay Richardson in 2018.   On the other hand, if the Jets don't have a big money quarterback on the roster by 2018 they may well decide to keep paying both Wilkerson and Richardson.  Of course, this is much too early to worry about this, as things have a way of changing drastically in the NFL over three years.

At any rate, it looks like, barring serious injury or suspensions, the Jets line of Wilkerson, Richardson and Williams will be together for at least the next two years, and likely the next three years.  It should be fun watching these three guys all playing in the prime of their careers together.  Unless, of course, you are an opposing quarterback.