For the second year in a row, the Jets began their offseason workouts without a familiar face: Muhammad Wilkerson.
The Pro Bowl defensive end, who is rehabbing his broken right leg, was not at the Jets’ facility on Monday and is not expected to attend voluntary workouts, according to a source. Voluntary workouts began on Monday and continue into next month. It’s unclear when the organization will see Wilkerson again. Voluntary organized team activities begin on May 24 and mandatory minicamp begins on June 14.
The Jets and Wilkerson’s camp have been at odds over a long-term contract for the past two seasons. The team placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Wilkerson, 26, in March, but he has yet to sign the tender, worth roughly $15.7 million.
The organization, however, expected Wilkerson’s absence this week due to his injury and ongoing contract situation. The star defensive end also skipped voluntary workouts and organized team activities last year because of stalled contract talks. He returned on the first day of mandatory minicamp.
Wilkerson, who suffered a broken right fibula against Buffalo in the season finale, posted a video of himself walking on an anti-gravity treadmill at the Jets’ facility last month. Just five days ago, he posted another photo of himself getting treatment in Phoenix, Ariz. “Rehab and treatment that’s what it’s about following the process,” he wrote. “The return of #96 getting closer.”
But it remains to be seen if his 2016 return will be in a Jets uniform. The Jets have explored trades involving Wilkerson since last offseason. With no starting quarterback for the upcoming season, the Jets will consider taking one in the NFL draft, which begins April 28. A source confirmed that the Jets had discussions with the Tennessee Titans about moving up to No. 1 in the draft order. The Los Angeles Rams, however, agreed to trade multiple picks to the Titans in exchange for the No. 1 pick.