New York Jets: Wilkerson trade to Browns makes sense
A surprising retirement has the New York Jets trying to figure out who will be their starting quarterback and who will actually be protecting him. Trading one of their best defensive players might bring the answers they’re looking for.
The dynamic of the Jets has changed significantly with the news of their starting left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson deciding to hang them up after 10 seasons. Not only will the Jets have to figure out their quarterback situation, but also who will be protecting him with this sudden retirement.
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A few weeks ago, some Muhammad Wilkerson trade destinations and deals were discussed, but now with the Ferguson news it opens up even more possibilities. Specifically, should a blockbuster trade that would arguably send the Jets’ best player in Wilkerson to the Cleveland Browns for their best player, starting left tackle Joe Thomas make sense? Why would this trade be feasible?
Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas (73) against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Well, the Browns have hit the reset button again and are looking to rebuild from the bottom up, but they could accelerate that rebuild by acquiring a perennial Pro Bowler in Wilkerson. Thomas has shared his displeasure playing for a team that has been abysmal nearly his entire career.
Thomas ideally wants to play for a contender that is competing for the NFL Playoffs and Wilkerson wants to get paid. The Jets were 10-6 last season and despite losing some key pieces, have added some firepower to the team. While the Browns currently have north of $40M in cap space according to estimates by OverTheCap.com, they could definitely give Wilkerson the big amount of money he’s looking for.
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The Jets didn’t just lose a starting offensive lineman, they didn’t just lose a 10 year veteran, they lost a leader in the club house.
The player who after every Jets victory led the team in it’s infamous victory chant.
It’s little things like these that make Ferguson’s retirement a shock but also one that will take time to fill in the void he will undoubtedly leave behind.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FOR EVERYBODY!https://t.co/YUfY6BlXUo
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 27, 2015
Now someone else will be leading that chant and someone else will have to anchor this offensive line while also being the veteran leader on this ball club that leads by example. Thomas has been revered for his leadership, his all-star play and his blue collar work ethic.
The Browns have been adamant that he can’t be had, but they’ve had a bit of a purge in recent weeks getting rid of Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby. If the Jets offered the right price, the Browns might be enticed, since a straight up trade between Wilkerson for Thomas would work financially.
But the Browns seem to have an affinity for draft picks and in this scenario, they wouldn’t acquire any. Perhaps to smooth things over, the Jets could throw in a mid-round pick as added compensation. Instantly, the Jets would have a left tackle who could fill the role for the next three to five years until a replacement is developed to take over.
The Jets have to continue to evaluate options with Wilkerson and any dream scenario of a similar treasure trove of draft picks they received for Darrelle Revis, doesn’t seem to exist. While the Ferguson retirement was surprising to the fans and media alike, the Jets had to have some sort of inclination that this was at the very least a possibility.
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Everything leads to the Jets more than likely having a few contingency plans in place to have a solution in place for Ferguson’s retirement. Ryan Clady is available pending a contract restructure, Will Beatty, the former New York Giant, is still available in free agency though health is a huge question mark. Finally, the 2016 NFL Draft is where general manager Mike Maccagnan has repeated his philosophy on building through the draft and that could work out nicely here for the Jets.