Muhammad Wilkerson is a 26-year-old Defensive End on the New York Jets that is on the verge of superstardom. Over the early stages of his career, he has consistently improved his game leading to his first Pro Bowl selection in the 2015-2016 season. He has undoubtedly been the Jets defensive leader the past couple of years, which leads me to the question that everyone is waiting for.
If Muhammad Wilkerson is only 26 years old and possibly the best player the Jets have, then why the hell won't they pay him the money to keep him long term?
The first answer to this question is by far the easiest, which is that the Jets can't afford him. The Jets already have some pretty huge contracts on the books, including the contracts for Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, David Harris, Eric Decker, and of course Darrelle Revis. Lets also not forget that the price it will take to bring Wilkerson back just keeps going up and up due to enormous contracts going out to similar players like Olivier Vernon and Fletcher Cox. While the Jets may be in what some call "cap hell" right now, that doesn't appear to be the case for the 2017 offseason. It seems the Jets should be looking at just over 20 million in cap space next offseason barring the resigning of Ryan Fitzpatrick. It also has to be kept in mind that the Jets can cut players next offseason to create even more cap room.
The second answer to the question at hand is a trickier one, which is that General Manager Mike Maccagnan could possibly view Wilkerson as replaceable. I mean the Jets do also have Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams, who are both former first round picks with tons of potential, and are only 25 and 22 years old respectively. Not to mention the fact that this offseason Maccagnan brought in two more defensive lineman by signing Steve McLendon and Jarvis Jenkins. Even though the Jets are very deep in talent when it comes to their defensive line, it would be an extremely risky decision to let Wilkerson go if given the opportunity to sign him long term.
It seems that Mike Maccagnan has an extremely difficult dilemma approaching him in this upcoming season. Has he not brought back Fitzpatrick to potentially save money for Wilkerson? Or has he already decided that he's willing to let the oldest member of the Jets Wilkerson, Richardson, and Williams trio walk next year in free agency. Wilkerson is a fan favorite and a hell of a player, Maccagnan better get ready for some noise because Jets Nation doesn't want to see Big Mo wearing anything else besides 96 in Jets Green.