Sportress of Blogitude

Mo Wilkerson relieved to be staying in Jersey with Jets signing

Muhammad Wilkerson couldn’t hide his relief over officially signing a five-year, $85 million deal last Friday with the New York Jets. And while the significant financial windfall coming from the long-term deal obviously is a reward unto itself, the fact that the New Jersey native didn’t have to leave the comfort of home to obtain it is perhaps the best part.

Wilkerson, a native of Linden, N.J., stressed during a conference call with reporters Wednesday how much it meant to him that he’s staying home.

“I definitely wanted to be here,” Wilkerson said, via NJ.com’s Darryl Slater. “I’m from New Jersey. My family is here. I wanted to raise my children here. I’m very excited to be back here.”

Wilkerson was slated to play under the franchise tag next season, save for coming to terms with the Jets at the last minute.

Now, instead of playing an entire season for $15.701 million with no long-term financial security, he earned a guaranteed $36.75 million (2016-17 base salaries, signing bonus, roster bonus) the moment he put pen to paper.

While insisting he would have worked just as hard playing under the franchise tag, Wilkerson not surprisingly is happy with the long-term contract reached despite the protracted negotiating process.

“I’m just happy to get a deal done,” Wilkerson said. “I’m glad that this part of the situation is over with, and now I can just focus on football and get ready for the season. I’m ready to get things rolling now. I don’t have to focus about a contract situation. I can continue my rehab [for a broken leg] and get ready for the season. The sky is the limit for this defense. We can be as good as we want to be.”

As alluded to by Wilkerson in his comments, he is still rehabbing his legbut insisted he’ll be ready come Week 1.

Until then, he will keep working hard while enjoying staying put in North Jersey. And he plans to help take help out his nearby family courtesy of the huge payday.

“I’ll definitely make sure my mom and my family are taken care of,” he said.