Muhammad Wilkerson’s situation is quite complex. He’s a 26-year-old coming off a 12-sack, Pro Bowl season, but he broke his leg in the final game of that campaign. He just broke free of a rookie contract that paid him only $13.9 million over the first five years of his career, and he missed just three games during that stretch. But now he’s been slapped with the franchise tag, and trade whispers have been running rampant.
Wilkerson’s agent, Chad Wiestling, wrote on Twitter recently that Wilkerson’s will be healthy enough to play “for someone” at the beginning of the 2016 regular season.
So, where might he play if not in New Jersey? The Jets have until mid-July to sign Wilkerson to a long-term deal or trade him. Otherwise, they could be looking at a holdout until the former first-round pick signs his tender.
Three potential options on the trade market…
Chicago Bears: They’ve already addressed the front seven by signing Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks and Jerrell Freeman, but they’ve still got a lot of money to spend and Wilkerson would be a hell of a fit for that system.
San Francisco 49ers: This would be a quick way to jumpstart a defense that was in ruins last season. I figured they’d be bigger players in free agency, but now they’ve got more salary cap space than anyone else in football and Wilkerson would be a perfect fit to work with Ian Williams up front. With a league-high 12 draft picks, they’ve got a lot of ammunition.
San Diego Chargers: After losing Eric Weddle in free agency, the Chargers are desperate for a new impact player on defense. They brought in Brandon Mebane in free agency but still have an opening opposite Corey Liuget up front. They’ve got plenty of salary cap space to spend on Wilkerson and should have trade ammunition with the third overall and 35th overall draft picks.