Should New York Jets trade Wilkerson for top QB?
Football games are not won in the offseason. Just the same, the New York Jets have had an impressive off season thus far. In particular, they were able to rebuild a tattered secondary (signing cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, and free safety Marcus Gilchrist) and add a potent threat at wide receiver in veteran Brandon Marshall.
However, the Jets are still plagued with one huge question mark: the quarterback position. A quick glance at some of the signal callers the Jets have trotted out over the past few seasons shows this is hardly a new concern.
The Jets have not had a quarterback throw more touchdown passes than interceptions since 2011. Even more alarming, they have not had a single one post a QBR over 50 since Chad Pennington did it in 2006. To say this team has a need at the position would be a colossal understatement.
Jets fans were undoubtedly ecstatic to observe their team’s many free agent signings, but adding a flurry of veteran players comes with its downsides. Because of future age and salary cap concerns, the Jets are built to win right now. And the Jets are more than capable of contending in 2015, as long as they can find adequate QB play.
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As he enters his third NFL season, Smith could take a monumental leap forward and develop into a capable starter. It is also possible that steady veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick could guide the Jets through a playoff run. Just the same, neither of these options are ideal, and the Jets should explore any and all opportunities to upgrade at QB.
Starting caliber quarterbacks are seldom found in free agency, especially this late in the year. If the Jets want an immediate upgrade at the position, they will have to explore the trade market. Fortunately for the Jets, they have a blue chip talent available as trade bait: DE Muhammad Wilkerson.
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive endMuhammad Wilkerson
(96) during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
On the surface, trading away a young star defensive talent like Wilkerson seems foolish. Jets fans would hate to see the Sons of Anarchy, an elite defensive line consisting of Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson dissolved. But sometimes the best move is the unconventional one.
After the Jets selected USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams with the 6th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, a player that many scouts considered to be the best overall prospect in his draft class, they were left with an excess of talent on the defensive line.
Additionally, Wilkerson is nearing the end of his rookie contract. Although the Jets can easily control his rights for 2015 and 2016 (through the end of his initial contract and use of the franchise tag), it will be difficult for the team to keep all of their young defensive talents long term.
General manager Mike Maccagnan should certainly continue to negotiate with Wilkerson; however, he should also jump at any chance to swap Wilkerson for a franchise quarterback. Its doubtful that Phillip Rivers would be available, but if the Jets could somehow pry him away from the Chargers they would instantly become Super Bowl contenders.
A lower profile option to consider could be Tamp Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Mike Glennon, who will be forced to ride the bench after Jameis Winston was drafted. Glennon plus a few draft picks for Wilkerson could be a great trade for the Jets.
The Jets should not make any hasty moves in regards to Wilkerson, but they should keep an open mind and do whatever it takes to upgrade at quarterback. It could be the one position that if it remains the same, could keep the Jets back from being a playoff-contending team this upcoming season.
Next: Geno Smith: Is he the long-term answer of New York Jets?