FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The clock is ticking on the Muhammad Wilkerson contract talks.
If Wilkerson and the New York Jets don't agree to a deal by Sunday, the talks will be tabled until after the season -- assuming he hasn't changed his position. At the start of training camp, Wilkerson set a Week 1 deadline. He doesn't want negotiations to spill into the season.
Neither side is commenting. They're trying to get something done, but the sense in league circles is that it's unlikely to happen by the start of the season. The Jets have a strong bargaining position because they can use the franchise tag next year. Basically, they have Wilkerson for two years at about $23 million -- his 2015 salary ($7 million), plus the projected cost of the franchise tag ($16 million).
Meanwhile, the word on the street is that Wilkerson is seeking a deal similar to that of Houston Texans star J.J. Watt. A year ago, Watt signed a six-year, $100 million contract, including $52 million in guarantees. Wilkerson is a terrific player, still only 25 years old, but there's only one Watt in the NFL.
On Wednesday, Wilkerson declined to discuss the status of talks.
"Anything regarding my contract," he said, "you have to talk to the people upstairs."
Meaning general manager Mike Maccagnan, who has proven he's not shy about spending money. In this case, though, it looks like he's holding firm.