The New York Jets pulled a buzzer beater shocker by signing defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson today to a brand new 5 year, 86 million dollar contract with 37 million guaranteed through the first two years (54 million over the next three years). The news came out of nowhere as long dormant talks escalated in the previous few days with an announcement well past 4PM. What does it mean?
First off in full transparency, I was 100% wrong on a long term deal getting done. It seemed like a near impossibility but the Jets found a way to navigate a challenging situation and keep the negotiations extremely low key. The feasibility of keeping three young, talented defensive ends still needs to be tested over the next few years but this was an impressive day for the organization, particularly with what they paid Wilkerson comparatively to Fletcher Cox’s recent contract (6 years, 102 million). The deal is structured in a way that should still give them flexibility to deal with Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams down the road.
The deal is a nice change of pace for the Jets when it comes to taking care of homegrown talent. They have an inconsistent history (to put it kindly) of rewarding players they draft and develop. This contract should send a positive message to the rest of the locker room that they are rewarding a player who has done it right on and off the field. Some other reaction:
Looking at the #Jets deal for Mo Wilkerson, it seems they paid him about what consecutive franchise tags would be. Solid blueprint.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 15, 2016
For the Jets, DL Mo Wilkerson’s deal sets up a two-year deal with options, and lines up with the end of Sheldon Richardson’s deal after ’17.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 15, 2016
That is a really good deal for the #Jets. Ton of guarantees up front – almost like a band aid deal disguised as a 5 year extension
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) July 15, 2016
An immediate question following the deal has been is Ryan Fitzpatrick next? With or without the Wilkerson deal, it remains more likely than not that Fitzpatrick is coming back. However, the assumption is that with a long term deal in place, more immediate money is now available for Fitzpatrick, although with how Wilkerson’s deal is structured, that may not necessarily be the case. Either way, it still remains a reasonably good possibility Fitzpatrick is back sometime around the start of training camp.
For now, the Jets will continue forward with one of the NFL’s best defensive lines. Wilkerson is one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL, Richardson isn’t far behind him and Leonard Williams should be right there in a few years. The Jets scored a big W today both in how they handled these negotiations, how they structured the contract and how they set up their defense for the next couple of years.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com