Owner Johnson Tells Reporters Signing Defensive End Long Term Remains A Priority


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — By all accounts, the Jets have had a great offseason.

But Muhammad Wilkerson’s contract squabble continues to be a thorn in the franchise’s side.

The big defensive end and the new regime in the team’s front office have yet to see eye to eye on a new deal and that has compelled some to speculate that the Jets could trade Wilkerson, especially since they just selected the country’s best lineman, USC’s Leonard Williams, with the No. 6 pick in the draft.

Though new general manager Mike Maccagnan has said he’s not actively looking to trade Wilkerson, he might have no choice if the sides don’t come together at some point going forward.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in San Francisco, Woody Johnson said the Jets still want to lock up Wilkerson long term, and it’s hard to blame them considering he’s blossomed into one of the best players at his position in the entire league.

“We’re continuing dialogue sporadically, trying to find something that works for both sides,” Johnson said.

The Jets picked up the fifth-year option on Wilkerson’s rookie contract and will pay him slightly less than $7 million this season. However, in search of more security, the former 30th overall selection in the 2011 draft has stayed away from voluntary workouts this off season, including this week’s organized team activities in Florham Park, New Jersey.

The real drama could begin to unfold in June, when the team gathers for a three-day minicamp that is mandatory.

“If something works out that’s agreeable to both sides, it will get done,” Johnson said.

Wilkerson has been outstanding against both the run and the pass, amassing 24.5 sacks in four seasons. He was an AP Second Team All-Pro in 2013.

With Wilkerson, Williams, end Sheldon Richardson and tackle Damon Harrison, the Jets figure to have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL in 2015.