NY Jets: Top 3 landing spots for Muhammad Wilkerson

By Michael Pallas
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) and New York Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace (97) tackle Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) in the first half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) and New York Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace (97) tackle Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) in the first half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) and New York Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace (97) tackle Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) in the first half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets hit defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson with their franchise tag as now they have some time to work out a long-term deal. If they don’t, these three teams could be potential landing spots for him.

The Jets slapped the franchise tag on Wilkerson, and it appears unlikely they will be able to work out an extension, which according to the cap calculator on the website Over the Cap, would save the Jets $11.9M off of this season’s cap.  So, that means the best option might be to trade him so that the Jets can get compensation for him, because he will likely hit free agency in 2017.

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There are several teams that could use a pass rusher of Wilkerson’s capabilities.  In two of the last three seasons he has reached double digit sacks.  So, many teams might be lining up for his services should the Jets make it known behind closed doors they’re looking for a potential trading partner.

It’s a non-exclusive tag.  That means Wilkerson can negotiate with other teams, and the Jets can then match the offer sheet of the team.  However, if the Jets don’t match, they would receive two first round draft picks as compensation.

In order to find a trading partner, the team would have to need a pass rusher, and it would have to suit the Jets as well.  It would behoove the Jets to move into the top-10, because they can get the offensive tackle they need and still get a pass rusher with their 20th overall pick.

Some people think that the Jets won’t be able to trade into the top-ten this year, but I believe no matter the year, if you can get a proven commodity rather than youth, you will almost always be willing to negotiate.  It just so happens that three teams in the top-10 need help on their defensive front.

Here are the top three landing spots for Wilkerson that makes sense.

Next: 3. Keeping it in house

Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A detailed view of a New York Giants logo on the helmet during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

3. New York Giants

The Giants and Jets share a stadium, and it may pain Jets fans once every four to five years to see Wilkerson come out of the other locker room.  NJ.com threw out the idea, and the writers eventually came to the conclusion that it won’t happen, but let’s explore the idea anyway.

The Jets need an offensive tackle, and the consensus around the NFL is that the Titans will draft Laremy Tunsil with their pick if they don’t trade out.  If the Jets can move into the top-ten they can get the offensive tackle they need without hoping for one to fall into their lap at No. 20, because the Chicago Bears could be looking to draft Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame at No. 11.

The Bears are in dire need of offensive line help in this year’s draft, and Stanley would be a great pick for them.  Getting Wilkerson would help the Giants and hurt the Bears, and since the Giants play the Bears this season, it could be looked at as a great opportunity for Big Blue this season.

I do believe the Jets would want too much from the Giants, who have a lot of holes to fill, and I agree with the ultimate assessment that this trade would be a pipe-dream.  However, it is fun to contemplate two organizations that share a stadium coming together in this manner.

Next: 3. Become a swashbuckler

Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers mascot, Captain Fear, wears pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Like the Jets, the Buccaneers had a hard time getting to the quarterback in 2015.  As a team, they were one behind the Jets with 38 sacks and that ranked them tied for 14th in the NFL. This means they will be in the market for a pass rusher.

Their top three leading players with sacks were Gerald McCoy (8.5), Jacquies Smith (7.0) and Howard Jones (5.0), and adding Wilkerson to that mix would definitely increase their production, because teams would have to key in on Wilkerson.  They need a double digit sack threat to improve the overall effectiveness of their defense.

From a Jets standpoint it gives them a top-ten pick, and thus, it gives them more flexibility in the first round.  It will allow them to take an offensive lineman early and a pass rusher at No. 20, like with a trade with the Giants.

Unfortunately, like the Giants, it may be more expensive than just the No. 9 overall pick from the Buccaneers.  So, it may be difficult for the Jets to broker this deal with them, but it would be great for both teams if they can work something out.

Next: 1. A new home in Los Angeles

Feb 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of San Diego Chargers and NFL shield logo helmets at the peristyle end of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Coliseum will serve as the home of the Los Angeles Rams for the 2016 season after NFL owners voted 30-2 to allow Rams owner Stan Kroenke (not pictured) to relocate the franchise from St. Louis. Chargers owner Dean Spanos (not pictured) has an option to join the Rams in Los Angeles. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers would be the best option for the Jets, because they not only have a need for a pass rusher, but the No. 3 pick would be enough compensation without having to add players and/or picks.  It would be straight up: Wilkerson for the Chargers’ No. 3 overall pick.

With the No. 3 pick, the Jets could go two ways:

1. Defensive End/Linebacker Joey Bosa, Ohio State 2. Defensive End DeForest Buckner, Oregon

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Both players are athletic enough to be hybrid players in the NFL, and they both showed a good ability to be pass rushers and run stoppers in college.  Bosa had 26 sacks and 51 tackles for loss, and Buckner had 18 sacks and 36 tackles for loss, with 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in 2015.

It’s unfortunate that it may come down to this, but trading Wilkerson might very well be the Jets’ best option for 2016.

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