At the tail end of his rookie contract, Wilkerson is vastly underpaid for his production. He is scheduled to earn a $1.2 million base salary this season and the fifth-year option on his contract in 2015 is just under $7 million. The Jets could then place the franchise tag on him in 2016, keeping him for three more years at team-friendly levels.
"Do I feel that I'm underpaid right now? Yeah," Wilkerson told the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta on Thursday. "But that's part of the business. My time will come when I get a new contract. But right now I'm just worried about becoming a better player, a better teammate and a better leader."
Coming off a 10.5-sack season, Wilkerson leads one of the stoutest fronts in the NFL, along with Defensive Rookie of the Year winner Sheldon Richardson and Damon "Snacks" Harrison.
"We recognize that Mo is a huge part of who we are in building our team," Ryan said. "John (Idzik) will tell you that. Everybody in this organization will tell you the kind of person Mo is. If you had your druthers, you do want to pay your own. That means you drafted well. They're part of your fabric for a long time. Your fan base identifies with those players."
At some point the Jets will have to pay to keep that fabric.