“We’re optimistic and we’re working through it, so hopefully something can come of it,” Bowles said of Wilkerson and Harrison, via NFL.com. “We know it’s a business at the same time and we have certain plans in place but our plans are to keep them.”
It wasn’t just Bowles who appeared to be optimistic about Wilkerson and Harrison being back with the team. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan also seemed to express some optimism about the idea.
“We like Mo and Damon and we want to find out a way to keep both of them,” Maccagnan said.
Interestingly enough, Maccagnan said that they could use their franchise tag on either player.
“Not to really speculate or anything, I would say, realistically, they’re both options,” Maccagnan said, via NJ.com. “I think at the end of the day we probably [would] have to decide one of the two. I don’t really want to tip our hand [as to] which one we would do that with.”
As of now, the Jets are projected to have over $21 million in cap space to work with, so it’s conceivable that they could keep both players. However, this would severely impact their ability to address other roster needs.
Of course, the Jets could look to make a few more moves to create even more roster space in the coming weeks.
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.
Harrison, 27, wound up signing on with the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of William Penn back in 2012. Last year, he was brought back on a one-year restricted tender and is now in position to sign a big contract as an unrestricted free agent.
In 2015, Harrison appeared in all 16 games for the Jets and recorded 72 tackles, a half sack, and a forced fumble.
We have both players featured in our Top 100 – 2016 Free Agents list