New York Jets' defensive standout Muhammad Wilkerson wants a new contract. The Jets placed the franchise tag on Wilkerson, but the New Jersey native has refused to sign it as he hopes for a long term deal. But Wilkerson just gained some big time leverage if he is able to get General Manager Mike Maccagnan to the negotiating table.
Fletcher Cox of the Eagles just signed a 6-year contract extension worth up to $103 million with $63 million guaranteed after being in a similar situation as Wilkerson. Cox had also been holding out from OTAs as result of his contract dispute and had the best season of his career in 2015, both matching Wilkerson's situation.
And given Wilkerson's skill level and the fact that he's coming off his first Pro Bowl selection, it's more than likely that he believes that he is worth at least that same $103 million, if not more.
In 2015, Wilkerson set a career high in sacks with 12 and passes defended with 7, to go along with 2 forced fumbles and 64 combined tackles before breaking his leg in the final game of the season. For his career, Wilkerson has 36.5 sacks, 21 passes defended, 9 forced fumbles and 301 combined tackles.
In one fewer season, Cox has 22 sacks, 7 passes defended, five forced fumbles and 212 combined tackles, certainly comparable to, if slightly beneath, Wilkerson's pace.
One certainly can argue that Wilkerson deserves the amount of money that he is asking for. And now that he has a basis for what the bottom end of his desired salary should look like, his asking price can only go up from there. Wilkerson's eventual long term contract, whether it's with the Jets or some other team, should be expected to surpass Cox's for the highest in guaranteed money to be given to a non-quarterback.