Good news for the New Orleans Saints looks like bad news for the New York Jets this week. It was announced today that the Jets’ talented defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson will not be accompanying the team on its flight to New Orleans due to a coach’s decision, per New York Post beat reporter Brian Costello and others.
Todd Bowles announces Muhammad Wilkerson won’t make the trip. Not injury related. A coaching decision. #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) December 15, 2017
It’s been a bizarre career turn for Wilkerson. The Jets were loathe to pay him a long-term contract in the spring of 2016, leading me to regularly call for the Saints to figure out a trade for him. It made sense at the time; the 6-foot-4, 305-pound pass rusher had collected 36-and-a-half sacks and 10 forced fumbles in his first five years in the NFL, including two double-digit sack seasons.
But since he was given a five-year, $86-million contract extension with $53.5-million in guarantees Wilkerson has fallen off of a cliff (or Gotham skyscraper). He’s bagged just eight sacks and one forced fumble over the last two years and has looked like a non-factor on a Jets team once built on the strength of its defensive line.
Now Wilkerson has been told to stay home as his teammate depart for the Big Easy. He’s started every game so far and was second on the defensive line in snaps played (698 to Leonard Williams’ 741). The end of the road may be in sight for Wilkerson’s New York career, as the Jets can recoup $11-million in salary cap space next year by releasing him per CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso.
Maybe Wilkerson hasn’t liked playing for nothing on a losing Jets team. Maybe he’s just a rotten apple. He is just 28-years old and in the prime of his career, so if the Jets cut him loose I expect he’ll find a home somewhere. Should the Saints give him a shot with Nick Fairley’s future in jeopardy?