Earlier in the day, reports surfaced that the Jets are using their franchise tag on DE Muhammad Wilkerson, which comes as little surprise.
However, there still some question whether Wilkerson will be playing for the Jets in 2016, as there has been talk that they could field trade offers for him after applying the tag.
Manish Mehta of New York Daily News spoke with NFL GMs and executives at the Scouting Combine last week about the idea, and it sounds like Jets may have a hard time getting an impressive return for Wilkerson.
One GM told Mehta that he wouldn’t be willing to part with a package of second- and third-round picks for Wilkerson, due to the fact that he would then have to sign Wilkerson to a long-term contract extension.
Instead, the GM said he would prefer to take his chances and see if Wilkerson reaches the free agent market next year.
Another GM who spoke with Mehta expressed real reservations about Wilkerson’s leg injury.
Interestingly enough, personnel men around the NFL have told Mehta that they believe Sheldon Richardson is more valuable than Wilkerson, assuming he has no further off-the-field issues.
The franchise tag will run the Jets $15.701 million fully guaranteed for the 2016 season, but won’t prevent them from negotiating a long-term deal that would reduce this figure and offer them some additional cap space.
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 had him featured in our Top 100 – 2016 Free Agents list.