The New York Jets have been nearing the day of Muhammad Wilkerson’s rookie contract coming to its end. The Jets must consider whether to franchise, sign to a long term extension, trade or even let Wilkerson walk as a free agent.
Wilkerson would love to stay as a New York Jet, but realizes he must sign a contract that will be fair compensation for his talent. The Jets would love to retain Wilkerson’s services, but also realize that in the future Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams are going to need contract extensions.
Kimberly Jones of NFL.com tweeted “NYJ will place franchise tag on Muhammad Wilkerson by 4pm Tuesday deadline, according to someone with knowledge of team’s plans.” The franchise tag for defensive lineman of Wilkerson’s position currently stands at $15,701,000, which is a hefty cap hit into the Jets plans.
The franchise tag would be the best move for the New York Jets as it will give the team more time to negotiate a long term extension and also explore trade opportunities with other teams. Wilkerson could bring the Jets back major assets in a trade and help fill other holes in the team’s roster.
Wilkerson has continually put up dominant numbers for the Jets. ESPN’s Trey Wingo tweeted “Muhammad Wilkerson 1 of 4 players with at least 10 sacks, 2 FF & 3 batted passes in 2015 along with J.J. Watt, Kawann Short & Melvin Ingram.” Wilkerson is a tremendous player, but he is not at a position of the most importance which makes this a difficult decision for the Jets.
General manager Mike Maccagnan has another tough offseason ahead of him. The way he decides to handle the Wilkerson situation will define the New York Jets offseason.