The Jets beat the clock on the July 15 deadline to sign multi-year deals with franchise-tagged players last summer by agreeing to a five-year deal with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.
Like most things for the Jets last year, it didn’t work out as expected. Wilkerson, who broke his leg in the final game of the 2015 season, turned in one of his least productive years as the Jets flamed out across the board. While the injury likely contributed to season-long ankle issues for Wilkerson, coach Todd Bowles downplayed the injury while discussing Wilkerson during the season.
While discussing Wilkerson at last week’s league meetings, however, Bowles cited that injury as a reason for optimism about Wilkerson’s chances of being back to form in 2017.
“Hopefully, if he’s healthy, I expect him to be back to the Muhammad that he normally is,” Bowles said, via ESPN.com. “I’m sure he played hurt most of the year. We had to give him some off-days. Usually, those things take about a year-and-a-half to come back from. He came back early and gutted it out. It shows the kind of warrior he is. Hopefully, he’s gotten better and he can go back to being himself.”
If Wilkerson can’t reach those levels, there’s a pretty good chance that it will be his final year with the Jets. Wilkerson is set to count $20 million against the cap, but the team would get $17 million back if they make Wilkerson a post-June 1 cut in 2018.