Ryan Fitzpatrick might get the headlines, but the Battle With The Beard isn't even the Jets' biggest contract-related concern this offseason.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday that defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson won't sign his franchise-tag tender in the near future and might not report for the start of training camp on July 27, according to sources.
We knew the All-Pro hasn't been happy with his contract situation, but there now seems to be a feeling that things could turn ugly between the two sides. One can only imagine how it went over at Camp Mo when news broke of Fletcher Cox's six-year extension with the Eagles that includes $63 million in guarantees.
The deal resets the Wilkerson market and the Jets continue to show no indication they are prepared to pay that kind of money for their 26-year-old homegrown star. Wilkerson, who is working his way back from a broken leg suffered in the season finale, will not take part in the Jets' minicamp this week. He cannot be fined by the team because he has not signed his tender. There is a league-wide July 15 deadline to reach a long-term contract agreement.
These are touchy times for Mike Maccagnan. The general manager was universally lauded for the moves that helped spark a 10-6 season in 2015, but the Fitzpatrick contract impasse is a dark storm cloud over Florham Park, while the Wilkerson situation looms as a monster distraction just now coming into focus.
Of course, the irony here is the moves that helped make Maccagnan such a hit in the aftermath of the John Idzik era have helped form his greatest obstacles as a GM now. The cap-strapped Jets would greatly benefit from deals that retained Fitzpatrick in the short-term and Wilkerson in the long-term.
Finding a way to actually make that happen would be Magic Mike's greatest trick yet.