The New York Jets are rumored to be nearing a major decision, with the potential trade of Muhammad Wilkerson sending the team in one of two very different directions.
The Jets have been shopping the defensive end, a process that so far doesn’t appear to be gaining much traction. The deal could potentially be huge for the Jets, signaling either a move toward rebuilding or going all-in for a payoff run after a disappointing 2015 season that ended with 10 wins but no playoffs.
As ESPN writer Rich Cimini noted, the potential trade of Muhammad Wilkerson will likely determine what direction the New York Jets take.
“A looming decision could shed light on the organizational path, and it involves their talented, unsigned defensive end — Muhammad Wilkerson, he of the franchise tag and the trade rumors.
“If the Jets trade Wilkerson for draft picks, it would show they’re willing to take a step back this year to help the long-term health of the roster. If they package him to draft a quarterback, who probably wouldn’t help right away, it would be a classic building-for-tomorrow move.
“Teams that view themselves as contenders usually don’t trade valuable assets, especially if the asset is only 26 years old. The Jets’ most important players — Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Nick Mangold, et al. — are older and aren’t interested in building for tomorrow.”
Cimini noted that the Jets are in a strange place — not quite good enough to add one or two players and make a Super Bowl run but at the same time reaching an “expiration date” with several aging players on the roster. It could make it intriguing for the team to see what Wilkerson might be able to fetch in a trade, he wrote.
There are also rumors that the New York Jets may not gain any traction on a trade for Muhammad Wilkerson in any event. The Chicago Bears were once seen as a potential trade partner, but Yahoo Sports‘ Charles Robinson reported that the Bears aren’t willing to meet the Jets’ asking price.
The Yahoo Sports report noted that the Bears aren’t likely to give up their first-round pick and the chance to make a major defensive line upgrade through the draft. The Bears would need to give up a key draft pick to go along with Wilkerson’s huge contract, something that has reportedly kept them away from the trade.
There are still some other rumors the New York Jets are facing about their future. The team has been locked in negotiations with now free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who came in last season to relieve the injured Geno Smith and ended up having the best season of his career.
Chris Carlin of SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio reported (via ESPN) that the New York Jets and Fitzpatrick are not close in their negotiations. Rumors indicated that the Jets were offering somewhere in the range of $7 million, but Cimini later reported that the offer was much higher. Fitzpatrick hasn’t gone public with his demands, but reports have indicated that he’s looking for $15 million a year or more.
The New York Jets are not giving any indication what they would like to do with Ryan Fitzpatrick, either. When asked on Wednesday if the team planned to address their quarterback vacancy before next month’s NFL Draft, owner Woody Johnson declined to say either way.
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