The New York Jets know they don’t really have the money to go around in the coming years when it comes to paying defensive linemen. Because of this, the franchise is reportedly shopping defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, per Brian Costello of the New York Post.
“Despite general manager Mike Maccagnan saying they are not “actively pursuing” a trade for Wilkerson, a source said Wednesday that the Jets are indeed shopping him around,” Costello writes.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine a deal will get done. As noted by ESPN’s Rich Cimini recently, a “tag-and-trade” deal, where Wilkerson signs his franchise tag and is then traded, is pretty much not happening. This means that any team interested in trading for Wilkerson not only has to give up some draft picks and/or a player but also needs to have cap space for a contract he’s interested in signing.
It’s well known at this point that Wilkerson is seeking over $50 million guaranteed, which would be a tough blow for most teams to absorb. On top of that he’s not going to go for cheap on the trade side of things, either, so it’s a double-whammy for any team dreaming of adding him to their lineup for the upcoming season.
Costello reports some in the league believe the Jets are willing to string him along on two consecutive franchise tags just to keep him, which would mean Wilkerson would earn $34.5 million in two years ($15.7 this year and $18.8 in 2017).
Clearly, with that being a starting point of his base worth for a two-year deal, $50 million guaranteed over the course of a long-term contract isn’t out of the question.
Make no mistake about it: teams will consider a trade. Despite the fact that Wilkerson is coming off a major injury, there isn’t any concern about his current health and he’s still considered one of the most dominant interior defenders in the NFL. He’s scheme-diverse and could thrive in any system, though he specializes in dominating at the defensive end spot in a 3-4 alignment.
Wilkerson racked up 12 sacks last year before getting injured. At the age of 26, the young man is still ascending and could be a dominant defender for a long time if his health holds up.