Wilkerson all but guaranteed to get franchise tag from Jets

By on February 25, 2016

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 10:33 PM

INDIANAPOLIS — Muhammad Wilkerson has about as much chance of hitting the open market as a free agent in the coming weeks as Roger Goodell has of returning some of his obscene annual salary.

Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles might have stopped short of declaring that Wilkerson will be slapped with the franchise tag absent a long-term deal, but the writing is on the wall. It’s going to happen unless Wilkerson suddenly lowers his asking price or the team magically changes its stance on his valuation.

“We have an idea internally what we’re probably or potentially going to do,” Maccagnan said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. “But at this point in time, we don’t really want to show our cards.”

Jets brass will huddle up with Wilkerson’s agent this week to discuss another long-term option or inform him of their plans of franchising his client.

“Mo is a very good player,” Maccagnan said. “Obviously we’d like to have him with the organization going forward, but… all options are on the table…. We like Mo very much.”

The Jets have about $ 21 million of faux cap space if the 2016 cap rises to $ 155 million (It’s actually less after you factor in the rookie pool, contingency money for unforeseen issues later this summer/regular season, etc). Wilkerson’s franchise tag would could $ 15 million-$ 16 million against this year’s cap.

The Jets likely have no other choice right now but to franchise Wilkerson, who likely will be shopped in a tag-and-trade over the next couple months before the draft.

Although Maccagnan suggested that the team could franchise impending free agent Damon Harrison, the more than $ 13 million it would cost to tag their nose tackle would not be the smartest move. “Realistically, they’re both options,” Maccagnan said about franchising Wilkerson or Harrison.

Bowles would love to keep all of his standout defensive linemen, but it’s simply not smart business to invest such a high percentage of the cap on one position group.

“It’s like putting a puzzle together,” Maccagnan said. “You’re trying to make decisions that are going to be the best for the team long-term. First and foremost, we’re going to do everything we can in our ability to keep as many good players as we can. I know a lot of people speculated: Can we keep all of them? It’s not outside the realm of possibility, but it would be a very big investment in that area (defensive line)… We like both Mo and Damon. We’re going to try to figure out a way ideally keep both of them.”

Easier said than done, of course.  

“We’re optimistic,” Bowles said. “We’re working through it. Hopefully, something can come of it. But we know it’s a business at the same time. We have certain plans in place, but our plans are to keep them.”

@MMehtaNYDN


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