USA American Football

NFL website:


Jets to give Wilkerson the rocket, as $86 million deal turns sour


Jets to give Wilkerson the rocket, as $86 million deal turns sour


It was supposed to be the perfect marriage, and one that was built to last. But as is so often the case with love, life and football, everything has turned sour in the relationship between the New York Jets and the holder of their $86 million mega contract, Muhammad Wilkerson, less than two years into their five year deal.


The 28 year-old defensive end from Linden, New Jersey, was billed as a key component in strengthening the Jets defensive line and helping the perennial under achievers to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. As it is, Wilkerson has been the biggest under achiever of them all, and has proved more distraction than attraction, as the season has lurched from bad to worse.


A gamble that failed


It started with so much promise. Even in those back to back defeats to the Bills and Raiders, the Jets played with positivity and purpose, and when they strung a series of wins together, the sportsbooks and betting sites at started to slash the odds on them making the playoffs to around the 7/1 going into Week Six. Two months later, the 5-8 Jets are once again at the foot of the AFC East, and while a playoff berth is still a mathematical possibility, the only real surprise about the 20/1 odds being offered is that they are not longer.


He’s gone


Wilkerson’s departure is already a foregone conclusion according to one team insider, who told Manish Mehta, the long-standing Jets beat reporter for the NY Daily News: “He’s gone.” From the moment he signed that fateful contract, Wilkerson has given the impression of a man who believes in his own hype. Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of being constantly associated with an $86 million price tag, but it does not make for a cohesive team.


As time has gone by, the infractions have increased, with Wilkerson constantly arriving late or failing to turn up at all for team meetings, and he even failed to show for his own birthday party.


Indifferent performance


If Wilkerson was making the big plays on the field, then his employers might be more inclined to live with his peccadillos and allow him to play the prima donna. But the most alarming part of the whole story is that when he has been benched, the Jets defensive line has looked no worse, and arguably better, without him.


It is interesting to compare his performances before and after the mega contract was signed. In the 2015/16 season, immediately prior to penning the deal, he had 12 sacks, was ranked #39 in the players’ own Top 100 NFL Players of the season and was a shoe in for that year’s Pro Bowl.  Last year, he achieved just five sacks, and this year, only 2.5 so far.


The Jets have yet to comment publicly on the subject, and will almost certainly say nothing till the regular season draws to a close. Wilkerson also remained tight lipped on the subject when quizzed by journalists prior to the Jets 23-0 loss to the Broncos on December 10.


Share this article

Be the first to comment!
Login to post comments.