The Jets' defensive line is intact finally.
As expected, Muhammad Wilkerson returned to the team's facility yesterday for the start of mandatory minicamp.
It's the first time Wilkerson, 24, has participated in any part of the Jets' 2015 offseason schedule. Frustrated over his contract situation, he skipped their voluntary workouts and organized team activities.
A former 2011 first-round pick and a native of Linden, New Jersey, Wilkerson has been seeking a long-term contract extension since last season. He's set to earn $6.999 million this season, well below the going rate for top defensive ends.
"I'm very confident that, hopefully, a long-term deal can get done," Wilkerson said yesterday after his workouts.
Wilkerson also said Tuesday that his toe was still bothering him and that he would check with the Jets' trainers to see if he'll participate in all three days of minicamp.
Wilkerson has recorded 24.5 sacks in four seasons with the Jets.
His absence over the past few months was his not-so-subtle way of getting the attention of the new Jets regime and general manager Mike Maccagnan. But unlike his employer, Wilkerson has little leverage in the situation.
He's under contract for 2015 and the Jets eventually could decide to put the franchise tag on him in 2016 as well, keeping him under their control.
Plus, he ran the risk of facing a daily fine for skipping mandatory minicamp sessions.
"I just thought, you work hard on the field, do what you've got to do on and off the field, and that's how you're supposed to get rewarded," Wilkerson said Friday night.