The New York Jets are expected to use the franchise tag on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, especially if the two sides are unable to gain considerable ground on a new contract before next Tuesday’s deadline.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Wilkerson is headed for the franchise tag unless he”suddenly lowers his asking price or the team magically changes its stance on his valuation.” Mehta also believes the Jets will shop Wilkerson once he’s given the tag
A first-round pick of the Jets in 2012, Wilkerson led the team with 12 sacks last season. However, he broke his leg in the season finale, leaving New York in a difficult position for negotiating a long-term deal.
General manager Mike Maccagnan—who said back in January that the tag was “absolutely” an option for Wilkerson—is clearly leaning one way.
“We have an idea internally what we’re probably or potentially going to do,” Maccagnan said Wednesday at the NFL Combine. “But at this point in time, we don’t really want to show our cards.”
The tag for defensive lineman is expected to be at least $15 million. The Jets have until March 1 to apply it. Giving Wilkerson the tag would give both sides until July to work out a new deal or trade.
It’s possible the Jets could find a strong trade market, even with the tag in play. Still only 26, Wilkerson is one of the more disruptive interior defensive linemen in the NFL. His skill set would be coveted by every team with the cap room to negotiate a long-term deal.
One thing has become crystal clear: The Jets will control where Wilkerson goes. He is headed for franchise tag—and a potential trade—if a new deal isn’t worked out in the next few days.