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Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson Agree to 5-Year Deal

All signs pointed against it, but the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson have come to a contract extension. The star defensive tackle inked a five year deal on Friday afternoon worth $86 million. The contract also includes $36.75 million is guaranteed and $15 million signing bonus.

The deadline for a contract extension was 4:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon. For pretty much the entire offseason up until yesterday, there was not much hope that a deal would get done. But the Jets ended up e-mailing Wilkerson and his team an offer at approximately 3:15 a.m. After hours of negotiations, an agreement was reached within minutes of the deadline.

If a deal had not been completed, Wilkerson would have played this year under the franchise tag, which he was not a fan of. He even skipped the team’s off-season workouts and mandatory minicamps in protest.

Wilkerson has been one of the premiere defensive tackles in the NFL over the past five seasons with New York where he has played in all but three games. He also has a five year total of 301 combined tackles and 36.5 sacks. And he is coming off a career high in sacks with 12.

After the deal was announced to the public, Wilkerson said in a tweet, “I give my all every Sunday on the field and play with so much love and passion for the game. I’m thankful for everything that comes my way and proud to say I’m back on the green and white for a few more years #96 #MKG #jetlife.”

General Manager Mike Maccagnan deserves a lot of credit for making this deal happen because it seemed like a long shot that Wilkerson would be playing with the Jets past 2016. But Wilkerson is an incredible talent that was born and raised in Linden, NJ, and is everything you could possibly want in a football player. The defense will be better for the next half decade with Wilkerson on the team.

This deal very well could have ripple effects to the Ryan Fitzpatrick negotiations. Now that this deal is complete, it will give the Jets more flexibility with their cap, now that the team no longer has not have to pay $15.7 million to Wilkerson in the franchise tag. Originally, the Jets only had about $3.4 million to work with, but the Wilkerson deal gives them flexibility, potentially for a one year deal.

This also brings into question the long term future of Sheldon Richardson. The Jets might look to trade him next year if a long term deal does not seem realistic. And we all know that Richardson will be asking for a lot of money. If they wait until 2018, it will be the Wilkerson drama all over again.

This contract is a win for the Jets on so many levels. Not only does it give them a cornerstone defensive tackle, but it also gives them flexibility with Fitzpatrick. They could also get some nice pieces if they were to trade Richardson (which would not be a bad thing), but most of all it shows just how smart the new Jet’s front office, they clearly have a good plan in place. They have shown that they can handle free agency as well as drafting. Now hopefully, it is just a matter of time until they can reach an agreement with Ryan Fitzpatrick. It would be quite impressive if they are able to complete a deal with Wilkerson and Fitzpatrick, the way this off-season has gone.

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