LINDEN, N.J. - Muhammad Wilkerson believes in being patient. Even when it comes to his money.
The Jets' star defensive end isn't letting uncertainty about his long-term future with the organization weigh him down, nor will he let it become a distraction for his teammates.
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"Things like that, that kind of divides the team. That's not my character, that's not me," Wilkerson said Tuesday night, shortly before he presented $1,000 scholarships to two students at his alma mater, Linden High School.
The former first-round pick said his agent hasn't spoken to anyone in the Jets' front office about a possible contract extension. But Wilkerson, who has made it clear he wants to be a Jet for life, isn't stressing what he can't control.
"I feel like I do a lot in the community, I bust my tail for the organization, so eventually my time will come when I deserve to get paid," he said.
By the Jets?
"Yes, by this team," he said with a chuckle.
The Jets exercised their fifth-year option on Wilkerson in April, weeks before the May 3 deadline. The organization could choose to stand pat in 2014 and 2015 before using the franchise tag on him in 2016. But Jets fans -- and Wilkerson -- are hoping the team locks him up for the long haul.
He had a team-high 101/2 sacks last season, along with 63 tackles and two forced fumbles. And Wilkerson, the 30th overall pick in 2011, was selected as a second-team All-Pro.
But for now, he's content focusing on this upcoming season -- and his high expectations for the Jets defense.
"Like I've been saying: sky's the limit," he said. "Each individual has to sacrifice something to help the team . . . If everybody does their job, ain't no telling how great this defense can be."
But even though he and his teammates are in the midst of organized team activities (OTAs), Wilkerson was determined to make time for Linden High School's award ceremony.
"I could be home resting and enjoying time with my family, but I went to school here, these are my roots, this is where I come from," said Wilkerson, whose second child, a son named Muhammad Harper Wilkerson, was born last week.
"It's only right that I'm giving back to the community, so I might as well show my face. You have people who have foundations and whatnot, and they just let other people run it. But I feel like I have to be involved cause that's just the type of person I am."
Tuesday was the first time Wilkerson personally handed out scholarships to students, and "it's something that I wanted to do," he said. "Hopefully, these kids can go on to college and do the same thing wherever they go and give back to the community."