Using the non-exclusive tag on Wilkerson would run the Jets close to $15.5 million for the 2016 season fully guaranteed.
As things stand right now, the Jets project to have close to $14 million or so in cap space, so Cimini mentions that they would need to create some additional room but releasing a player and/or restructuring a few contracts.
According to Cimini, league insiders believe it’s possible that the Jets could franchise Wilkerson and then field trade offers for him in the coming months. It’s worth mentioning that the Jets reportedly made Wilkerson available for trade last year, so this wouldn’t be a complete surprise.
Cimini mentions that the Raiders could be a potential trade partner for Wilkerson, considering that they have a ton of cap space and could use someone like him on their defensive line.
Even though a trade is an option, Cimini doesn’t view this as a good idea for New York.
Wilkerson, 26, is already among the best defensive linemen in the NFL and has clearly earned for a big raise after the contracts signed by marquee players in the past few years.
In 2015, Wilkerson recorded 59 tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and six pass defenses over the course of 15 games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 5 defensive end in a 3-4 system out of 57 qualifying players.
We have Wilkerson featured in our Top 100 – 2016 Free Agents list