Wilkerson has it wrong; the Jets “want” him — for one more year

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As the salary cap swells and the market for veteran defensive linemen grows, teams hoping to remain on the right side of the spending limit have to decide whether to break the bank to keep talented players at the end and tackle positions or whether to replace them with cheaper in-house options.

The Jets clearly are choosing not to break the bank for defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

Wilkerson claims that the team doesn’t “want” him, but he’s wrong about that. The Jets want him, for one more year at $15.7 million. They don’t want to sign him to a Fletcher Cox-style deal, and they presumably don’t want to give him a 20-percent raise over his current franchise tender to keep him for 2017.

As noted by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have compiled through sound drafting and development a trio of competent defensive linemen: Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. They can hold the threesome together for one more year, let Wilkerson walk in 2017, and try to replace him with a younger, cheaper player.

If they can’t, the Jets eventually may have to pay something close to market value to Richardson or Williams. For now, though, the one thing that Jets don’t have to do — and surely don’t want to do — is sign Wilkerson to a huge-money deal.

Doing that would serve only to increase the expectations of Richardson, who already has said both he and Wilkerson want to be paid like Ndamukong Suh. Then, if Richardson gets a big contract, Williams will be counting the days for his own large pile of cash.

They can’t sign all three of them to large contracts. They probably can’t sign two of them to large contracts. So, for now, the Jets are taking full advantage of rules that allow them to continue to squat on Wilkerson, a first-round pick in 2011, for one more year before the cost for keeping him for another year spikes to $18.8 million.

Of course, this permits Wilkerson to take full advantage of rules that allow him to skip all of training camp and the preseason and still get the full $15.7 million. And none of the rules prevent Jets players from wondering why a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010 isn’t rewarding quality in-house players with big contracts, opting instead to throw money at guys who have made their contributions with other teams, like Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Darrelle Revis (who returned to the Jets after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots).

This offseason alone, the Jets have squeezed tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson into retirement, allowed tailback Chris Ivory and defensive lineman Damon Harrison to exit via free agency, engaged in a three-months-and-counting stare down with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and by all appearances refused to offer a meaningful long-term contract to Wilkerson. The public nature of the Fitzpatrick situation and, more recently, the Wilkerson dispute could eventually create a problem in the locker room.

Coach Todd Bowles has shown that he can deal with anything and everything that comes his way, most notably the fist that came Geno Smith’s way last year. At some point, the franchise’s approach to handling its own free agents could give Bowles a headache that even he will have a hard time resolving.

27 responses to “Wilkerson has it wrong; the Jets “want” him — for one more year

  1. This is the frustrating part of football from the fans’ perspective.

    Teams draft awesome players, they stick around for a few years, and then want to be paid for their future play, which everyone hopes will still be awesome.

    I totally get that they want to get paid well, and they should, but that dang business part of football ruins things…again.

  2. Bye bye Mo. There’s a new marshall in town and, unlike previous regimes, see: Tannenbaum, he won’t overpay for players. Just because there are teams who are giving out ridiculous contracts doesn’t mean the Jets are going to do the same. $18 – $20 million a year for a defensive lineman who, while he’s really good, is not a game changer. Mo needs to go find one of those teams who’ll agree to overpay him.

  3. Way overpaid for a declining Revis, thus no cap space for Mo. Woody didn’t build his wealth in j&j, he inherited it.no reason to think he can build a successful football team.

  4. Of all the players mentioned above, the only one where the Jets made a questionable decision was bringing back Revis. He’s a solid player, but it just feels like Woody wanted him at any cost.

  5. I can see in the near future where 5 or 6 players on the same team eat up more then 100 million of the cap. With 1 or 2 players waiting in the wings to also cash in. I know it’s not my money but I do understand how teams think into the future and do not want to strap themselves

    Taking Revis back for that money was stupid. But it’s happening all around the league with players agents pumping prices up. Look at what teams paid. Osweiler 18 mil a year ? Not worth it. Darius 100 million ? Certainly not worth it. Even Drew Breeze, 30 million?????? Breeze is good but no player in the NFL is worth paying that type of money too

    Not aJets fan but can fully understand why they are not backing up a Brinks truck for Wilkerson Fitzpatrick or anyone else. Folding to players demands on insane money does not guarantee wins.

  6. Unless there’s a health or suspension/character concern a team that wants to keep a guy that is on a rookie deal needs to look at extending him before he ever gets to the last year of his deal. There’s only one team that can pay a guy more on a current deal and a player is never more than one play away from having his career end. The team is in it’s best position from a leverage standpoint when there are outstanding year(s) on a contract. Of course they have to have the cap space to do it. Ironically if a team has a couple of excellent drafts in a row it compounds the problem of multiple guys contracts coming up one after the other.
    The cap has made how good the front office is just as, if not more, important as what happens between the lines for fans. The cap is a heck of a leveler, unless the front office is really getting it done sustained success is hard to come by.

  7. I’m a die-hard Jets fan and yes I can say the Jets are stupid and cheap do not sign MO to a long-term deal he is clearly the best guy we have a front in Richardson is nowhere near his level

  8. There are 2 different GM-styles… draft & develop (& re-sign your own guys before they’re looking for $100Mil+ contracts) and draft & discard (& sign others’ FA). The Jets have other DL’s in the pipeline so no need to break the bank to keep Mo. Problem is there’s a dearth of talent at other positions so they feel the need to unwisely spend big $$ (Decker, Revis), which then handcuffs their cap. Sorry Mo, gotta go in ’17.

  9. I like how this article is trying to paint the Jets as a bad organization for not signing their players. Was Decker a bad free agent pick up? Was Revis? The Jets are loaded on the D line. This is the business side of football.

  10. I am not a Jets fan but the Revis comments are amusing. Is he overpaid? Probably, but it’s relative. While he is arguably declining he is still a top 10 corner. His contract is $2M more than the average of the top 10 corner’s contracts. $2M isn’t handcuffing them, never mind killing them. It;s not that simple but perspective is everything though, sell the myth long enough and loud enough and it becomes the narrative.

  11. “And none of the rules prevent Jets players from wondering why a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010 isn’t rewarding quality in-house players with big contracts, opting instead to throw money at guys who have made their contributions with other teams, like Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Darrelle Revis (who returned to the Jets after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots).”

    Revis was drafted by the Jets. Yes he left for two years, 1 at bucs (in which we hands down won on that trade), and 1 at Patriots. But he is still an “in house” player. Nice try though.

  12. Woody Johnson doesn’t sign big money contracts (more than 30M guaranteed), except to Revis and he regrets both times he did it. This is a classic pattern with the Jets and unsurprising.

  13. chronsy says:
    Jun 16, 2016 9:41 AM
    As a Browns fan at least I can say I am glad I am not a Jets fan..
    Really you’d rather be a Browns fan than a Jets fan? Did you actually start watching football last week? how many AFC championships have the Browns been too the last 20 years? 3 less than the Jets. How many playoff appearances compared to the Jets? It’s not like you are a Pats fan saying this. Talk about clueless.

    The only reason the Jets are playing hardball is because they have two other elite DE on the roster and are choosing which player they can afford to spend on which one they are going to have to let go. It’s the nature of the NFL Salary Cap. As a Browns fan I realize this is something you don’t have to worry about because your team doesn’t have one player they would need to pay big money too. So in a way it’s nice to be the worst team in the sport. You don’t have to deal with problems like paying players who can actually play the game.

  14. I been a Jets Fan since the 90s some of you guys are dillusional how is Revis declining he had 9 turnovers by himself he had 3 bad games and allowed 47% of passes to be completed on him if that’s declining 95% of the CB in the NFL Would wanna be declining

  15. there are two markets in this league for star players(other than QBs). Take top dollar from a lesser team who hasn’t paid mega money and needs a star player, or take lesser money from a good team and make the playoffs. I wish the structure would change like the NBA where teams have the option to sign their own for a lil more than others can in free agency. This would mean structuring a soft cap according to keeping your own drafted players.

  16. While not a aJets fan and having the luck of being st 30 of the Nfls stadiums, I can say with confidence that Jets fans by far, have the best tailgate setups on the planet earth. They are regular people. Not the wine and cheese crowd that is now Giant fans. If I was in a dark alley I spoiled personally pick any female aJets fan to have my back over any male fan from any other team. Jets fans , I admit, are pretty cool.

    In. Heart beat they will tell you off but also in a heart beat they would stand by your side in a time of need.

  17. Absolutely insane that a team would think Mo freakin’ Wilkerson is NOT as valuable as Fletcher freakin Cox.

    Let him go, Jets. There are at least a dozen teams out there ready to pay the man what he’s worth.

    This is a bad man. A monster who can NEVER be blocked one-on-one. A disrupt or the likes of which comes along only once in a while. IMO, this kid is worth more money than Suh. He is one of the truly great ones.

  18. There are two opposing dynamics at work here: (1) a great player who wants to get paid and (2) management’s need to put a great TEAM on the field under the salary cap.

    I don’t blame Mo and I don’t blame the Jets.

    The problem Mo has is there are two really good less expensive players who can do what he does.

    Its not like the Dolphins (who had no one) or the Eagles (who had 1), the Jets aren’t desperate for what Mo does.

    Maybe we are seeing the future here. Decide the what the key positions are, draft a good one every year, break the bank when you HAVE to or you find the next Tom Brady, and then let everybody else walk as soon as they want too much.

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