The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft has come and gone and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is still on the New York Jets.
There were two very large elephants in the war room of the Jets, but it seems that at least for the time being, one of those elephants was addressed. After the Jets made their first round draft selection of Darron Lee out of Ohio State, the front office met with the media via NewYorkJets.com.
In the presser that lasted a little more than 13 minutes, a lot of things were addressed. The Jets reportedly talked about trading up in the draft, they thought of trading down in the draft, but ultimately they stood pat. Another item they stood pat on was their mercurial Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) reacts to the crowd in the second half of the Jets 38-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
The thought was a trade of this magnitude would have had to be agreed in principle before the draft kicked off. General manager Mike Maccagnan reiterated those sentiments provided by the New York Jets Media Relations Department:
“I would say…I really don’t want to get into all the details, but I would say simply that some of you have written about this. To attempt to trade a franchise-tagged player it’s a little more complicated. You can’t trade the player without (the other team compensating him) or Wilkerson signing his tender. Without getting into the specific details of it, if we were to do a trade it would’ve probably been in advance of the draft as opposed to during the draft.”
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Near the end of the presser, the media continued to try to prod Maccagnan into actually saying Wilkerson won’t be traded.
Todd Bowles and Maccagnan started laughing back and forth by the persistence of the media:
“Understanding the logistics involved, I would say yes…well most likely. I mean probably it’s not going to happen, I don’t anticipate on surprising any of you. So if you feel safe to say, I’m not sure how to answer that question (ensuing laughter). But to answer your question, yes I would not envision that happening.”
It was a lighthearted moment in the middle of one of the most intense times of the year for NFL teams. It also brings a sense of closure, at least for the time being. While there are still many obstacles in this journey including Wilkerson’s rehab from a broken leg he suffered in the Week 17 regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills, it’s hard to predict what will ultimately happen.
Let it also be know that Wilkerson has yet to sign his tender for the one-year franchise tag. So it seems that the Jets are content with simply riding out this year with Wilkerson and figuring things out next offseason. Maybe the Jets decide next season to give Wilkerson a long-term deal or maybe a tag and trade is revisited in 2017.