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Muhammad Wilkerson absent for start of Jets' offseason program

Free-agent defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who has yet to sign his $15.7 million franchise-tag tender, was a no-show Monday for the start of the New York Jets' offseason program, according to a source.

Wilkerson's absence was expected. He is unhappy with his contract situation and likely will skip the entire offseason program for the second straight year. If the sides can't agree to a long-term deal by July 15, he will play for $15.7 million in 2016.

By rule, the workouts are voluntary. Because he is not under contract, Wilkerson has no financial protection in the event of a serious injury in the offseason program. He's working out on his own as he continues to rehab a surgically repaired broken leg.

Wilkerson's fellow defensive ends, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams, were among those who reported early Monday morning to begin voluntary workouts.

For the second straight offseason, Wilkerson is the subject of trade speculation, except this time the Jets seem more motivated than ever to deal their Pro Bowl defensive end. They may use him as a bargaining chip to trade up in the first round to secure a quarterback.