Option year means Mo Wilkerson’s new deal can wait

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Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson is finding out he’s going to have to wait a year for his long-term contract, something most of the 2011 first round is going to learn.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets spoke with Wilkerson’s agents recently about his contract future, but they aren’t close to a new deal. Instead, the team will exercise the fifth-round option to lock him up through the 2015 season, and resume talks later.

For Wilkerson, that will mean another year at around $5 million to $6 million tacked onto his affordable rookie deal, which is great for the Jets. For players picked in the top 10, the option number is the transition tag amount this year. For players drafted 11th through 32nd, it’s the average of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, with the top three excluded.

But the Jets have until May 3 to exercise that option, so the current business will be in free agency and the draft. And with the cheap option year in their pockets (and a franchise tag available after that), there’s far less urgency for the Jets to do a long-term deal this offseason unless it’s good for them.