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New York Jets need to sign or trade Muhammad Wilkerson immediately

By Jerry Romei
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) stretches before the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) stretches before the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /
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The saga between the New York Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson continues. Either way, Gang Green needs to sign or trade him immediately before it’s too late.

The ongoing saga between the Jets and Wilkerson continues.  Wilkerson, who is looking for a monster payday is frustrated with the lack of commitment that the organization has shown him.  The Jets on the other hand, are trying to get fair value out of a player that has been very productive for them.  The situation is getting ugly and the longer it takes to play out, the worse it is for the Jets.

Related Story: Wilkerson trade to Browns makes sense for Jets

So let’s start out analyzing what Wilkerson’s value actually is.  When it comes to defensive linemen, the guy that everyone needs to be compared to is J.J. Watt.  Watt’s ability to terrorize the quarterback from anywhere on the line led to a $100M dollar extension in 2014.

new york jets
new york jets /

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) chases Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past year Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Cameron Jordan all received contract extensions or cashed in big during free agency.  We will take a look and see if this can give an idea of where Wilkerson’s dollar value is.

GP

COMB

TOTAL

AST

SACK

FF

Watt

16

76571917.53

Wilkerson

16

64392512.0

2

Jordan

16

45321310.0

1

Wolfe

124935145.5

0

Jackson

164534115.0

0

Wolfe of the Denver Broncos received a $36.75M contract extension.  Wolfe is a similar player to Wilkerson as he plays the defensive end position in a 3-4 base defense.  The difference between the two players is that Wolfe isn’t the most impactful player on the defense and does a lot of the dirty work that allows Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

He is stellar against the run being able to hold his ground at the line of scrimmage and peel off blocks, but he is not as adept at rushing the passer, collecting only 5.5 sacks in 2015.  Wolfe does his job in Denver very well and doesn’t need to be the elite pass rusher when you have edge rushers like they do.  His role is to eat up space and allow Ware and Miller to beat one-on-one matchups.

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Jordan of the New Orleans Saints received a $55M contract extension over five years in 2015.

A more impactful player on the Saints’ defense than Wolfe is for Denver, Jordan racked up 10 sacks this past season.

It’s fair to compare Jordan and Wilkerson because both are dynamic players being able to take on numerous roles in their schemes.

There were very few high moments in 2015 for the Saints’ defense but if there was one, it was Jordan.  Jordan moves all over the line of scrimmage and is solid both against the run and as a pass rusher.  Jordan is very active with his hands at the line and if he is unable to get to the quarterback he makes sure his hands are up to bat down passes.

Him and Wilkerson share a lot of the same versatility and do many of the same things well.  Wilkerson is stronger at the line of scrimmage and eats up defenders more consistently but if there is a comparison of player to Wilkerson, it would be Jordan.

Now here is where the giant wrench is thrown in.  The wrench is in the form of a former Bronco in Jackson.  Jackson went on to earn himself a 90, yes $90M contract with the ever dysfunctional Jacksonville Jaguars.  To steal a line from one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin, “WHAT?!”

Jackson is a great player but $90M?!  Jackson essentially played a similar role in Denver as Wolfe and went on to record 5 sacks in 2015.  Now I know sacks are not everything and are a largely overblown stat when it comes to determining the value of a player, but you have to understand where the players and agents are going to be coming from when negotiating these contracts.  They are going to go with pure numbers.

new york jets
new york jets /

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates his sack of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17)(not shown) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Wilkerson is clearly a better player than Jackson and has been more consistent over the course of his career, but are you telling me that Jackson’s value is only $10M less than the best defensive player we have seen over the past 10 years in Watt?  Watt earned his massive contract in 2014 and has gone on to show why he is worth every single penny.  There is no defensive lineman in the league that comes even close to the talent level and has the impact on his team that Watt does.

Looking at all the contracts and seeing what these players are making,  you have to assume that Wilkerson wants at least $95 to $100M.  He produces on the field at a higher level than any one of those players.  If I am his agent, I am showing the Jets Wilkerson’s stats compared to those who received extensions and screaming to pay the man.

Wilkerson, in no way, shape or form deserves the same money as Watt because he just doesn’t do the things that Watt does as the level that Watt does it.  If I am the Jets, there is no way I am paying Wilkerson that amount of money because of a mistake a desperate Jacksonville franchise made by signing a player way above what his actual value was.  Unfortunately with the way the salary cap has increased every year, this is the NFL world we live in.  So what do the Jets do?

The Jets need to make a decision before or during the night of the 2016 NFL Draft.  If they want to trade Wilkerson, unload him for the best value you can get and add multiple players that could help the team.  If they are intent on signing Wilkerson (which I do not think they are) then get it done with.  If Wilkerson holds out all of the offseason program and does not get a contract extension done by the July 15th deadline, then there is a decent chance he could hold out of training camp.

If this happens, the Jets are in trouble.  History shows us that players who do not attend training camp usually end up injured (2010 Darrelle Revis) or take a while to get going once the season starts because they are simply not in football shape.  If this happens, the Jets will be without Wilkerson anyway, so let’s go, either get this done or get rid of the man.

The Jets need to unload Wilkerson if the value is right.  As much as fans love him as a player both on and off the field, he’s not worth the $100M investment to a position that already has a lot of quality depth.  Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams have the potential to be more impactful than Wilkerson.

The stats don’t jump off the chart but Richardson is a dynamic player who can be moved anywhere on the defensive line.  That was shown this year when Todd Bowles was lining him up at outside linebacker.  When Richardson is playing at his highest level he is more explosive and disruptive than Wilkerson.

As long as he keeps his head on straight,  he has the ability to be an All Pro caliber player.  Williams who fell into the Jet’s lap last year in the 2015 NFL Draft, displayed flashes of the same disruption that Wilkerson and Richardson have shown over the past few years.  He is young and hungry and looks like he has the chance to be a disruptive force for years to come.

The Jets finally have a general manager in Mike Maccagnan that understands value and is thinking about the future of the team.  Maccagnan understands the concept of longer term sustainability and is modeling this franchise to not just be successful in the short-term, but to be consistently competitive every year.  How many top-level teams dish out $100M contracts to non quarterbacks who are not elite edge pass rushers?

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Just take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.  They build their teams with value players and draft picks.  That is the exact philosophy that Maccagnan is enforcing with the Jets.  We will see how this all plays out.  Just like the rest of Jets Nation, here’s to hoping for the best.

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