Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has made more headlines with his tardiness than his play this year, but Wilkerson doesn’t see that way.
Defending himself against claims he’s giving something other than full effort after making $37 million the last two years, Wilkerson denied the idea he wasn’t living up to the massive contract he signed prior to the 2016 season.
“I feel like I’ve earned everything I’ve gotten,” Wilkerson said, via Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News.
Asked why, he replied: “Because I feel like I’ve earned it.”
Wilkerson parlayed a 12-sack 2015 into the five-year, $86 million contract, and has eight sacks in the 28 games since. But he has been benched for being late twice in the last month, and was left home for last week’s game in New Orleans. Jets coach Todd Bowles said yesterday that Wilkerson had “served his sentence,” but didn’t say he’d absolutely play this week.
Wilkerson gave a pair of “Next question” replied when asked if Jets fans should trust him, and when asked if he had let the team down.
“I feel like I’m a leader because of the things I’ve done, you know, helping, you know, build this organization,” Wilkerson said.
Of course, the Jets no longer see it that way, and it appears clear he’s gone after the season. The only real question remaining is whether they let him play at all the last two weeks, for fear of triggering a $16.75 million injury guarantee for next year if he’s hurt.