Beyond that, Mehta suggests that if the two sides can’t agree to a fair compromise regarding a contract extension, the Jets should explore a tag-and-trade scenario.
This would allow the Jets to shop Wilkerson around and possibly use him to trade up in the 2016 draft and for a quarterback, edge pass rusher or another position of need.
Mehta writes that while Wilkerson is a great player, he’s “not in J.J. Watt’s stratosphere” and adds that his teammate Sheldon Richardson actually has a higher ceiling. On top of that, New York will need to address Richardon’s deal in the coming years.
The Jets elected to allow Wilkerson to play out the 2015 season under his fifth-year option, and they bolstered their defensive line depth by using their first-round pick on Leonard Williams.
With this in mind, Mehta believes it would be unrealistic for the Jets to sign Wilkerson and Richardson to blockbuster extensions.
The franchise tag would run the Jets around $15 million for the 2016 season.
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 recent months.
This season, Wilkerson has recorded 56 tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and six pass defenses over the course of 14 games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 6 defensive end in a 3-4 system.
We have him listed as the No. 2 player in our Top 25 – 2016 Free Agents list.