At this point of the NFL season, with training camps around the corner, contract extensions are all the rave. For the Seattle Seahawks (Doug Baldwin), the Buffalo Bills (Stephon Gilmore) and the New York Jets (Muhammad Wilkerson), it’s not such a jolly season.
The Jets used the franchise tag on Wilkerson a few months ago, knowing very well it was going to be difficult and signing him on a long term deal, not really wanting to pay him the kind of money he’s looking for. Wilkerson is tagged at $15.7 million, following his best season, with 12 sacks and his first Pro Bowl inclusion. The Jets have been shopping him around, but haven’t been able to find a trading partner. They certainly don’t want to give him a contract like the one Fletcher Cox got from the Philadelphia Eagles ($103 million, six years, $63 million in guaranteed money).
So what to do? Remember, the Jets also have Ryan Fitzpatrick on hold. There’s the option of simply tagging him again next season (it’ll cost them $18.8 million). It might be costly in the short run, but keeps them insured if he’s injured again. Wilkerson is still recovering from a broken leg, which means he wasn’t going to show up for minicamp anyway. Because he hasn’t signed his tender, he won’t be fined if he doesn’t show up until week 1, although it’ll make things ugly between the two sides.
The Bills haven’t tagged Gilmore; the cornerback has one more year on his deal worth $11 million. But he’s seeing the money being thrown around at other cornerbacks that might not be better than him, and obviously is looking to get paid. Gilmore isn’t planning on missing minicamp – he doesn’t want to get fined, but there seems to be serious discontent coming from his camp with how the Bills have been treating him, which means this is another contract situation without a very positive outlook.
The Seahawks seem to be dealing with someone wanting a big raise every season. Marshawn Lynch is never happy with the money he’s being paid, and Kam Chancellor actually held out for two games, without getting the team to fold, at least not publicly. Doug Baldwin was fantastic last season, with an NFL-best 14 touchdown receptions and 1069 yards. In 2016, the final year of his contract, he’ll be making $4 million in base salary, and with bonuses it comes to $6.3 million.
Baldwin says that he thinks the contract situation will take care of itself. But there’s clearly discontent among certain Seahawks players when they see the organization rushing to pay some players while others are being held off. According to Seahawks policy, Baldwin should be getting a chance to talk with the brass and get a new deal before he’s a free agent. However, the Seahawks are obviously more limited than ever with Russell Wilson’s cap hit kicking in ($18.5 million in 2016), which might make it difficult for Baldwin to get the $10 million or close to that number he’s looking for.