New York Jets Rumors: Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was reportedly never healthy in 2016, playing a part in his struggles.
Recent New York Jets rumors focus on last season. Basically, everything that could have gone wrong for the Jets did. Quarterback play was atrocious, but that was far from the only problem. One of the biggest surprises was the production defensively or lack thereof.
The defense was expected to be the backbone of the Jets in 2016 but came up woefully short. The secondary was a letdown with the struggles of Darrelle Revis garnering a lot of headlines. The defensive front was not without fault as well.
On paper, the Jets had one of the most talented defensive lines. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams are a handful. Unfortunately for the Jets, only Williams really lived up to the billing in 2016. As a result, the defensive front was not as dominant as hoped and the ineffectiveness trickled down throughout the defense.
More from Jets Rumors
- New York Jets: Poor Leadership Or Cursed Franchise?
- New York Jets circus doesn’t deserve Le’Veon Bell
- New York Jets Rumors: Sheldon Richardson Not Drawing Much Interest
- New York Jets Rumors: Bryce Petty On Roster Bubble
- New York Jets Rumors: Mitchell Trubisky To Be Hosted For Visit
The biggest disappointment of the bunch was Wilkerson. Wilkerson signed a massive five-year, $86 million deal last offseason. He didn’t come close to living up to that contract in Year One.
Wilkerson recorded only 4.5 sacks, the fewest since his rookie season. It has been revealed that part of the reason for his struggles was the injury he battled through.
Wilkerson broke his fibula the last game of the season in 2015. The Jets signed him to a long-term deal despite that fact and it is believed that played a part in Wilkerson’s struggles.
"“I’m sure he played hurt most of the year,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “We had to give him some off-days. Usually, those things take about a year-and-a-half to come back from. He came back early and gutted it out. It shows the kind of warrior he is. Hopefully, he’s gotten better and he can go back to being himself.”"
Wilkerson gutted it out throughout the season. He appeared in 15 games and played 81 percent of the defensive snaps. But he was playing at far less than 100 percent as he did not impact the game has he normally does.
"“Hopefully, if he’s healthy, I expect him to be back to the Muhammad that he normally is,” Bowles said last week at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix."
Wilkerson has to get back on track not only for himself but so the front office can save some face as well. The Jets handed out big money to Wilkerson and Ryan Fitzpatrick last offseason and both moves didn’t pan out.
Fitzpatrick is no longer with the team and Wilkerson won’t be either if he doesn’t turn things around. The Jets can cut Wilkerson next offseason and save $17 million out of the $20 million cap hit Wilkerson is set to have. There is no fully guaranteed money on his deal beyond 2017, so he will have to produce or find himself looking for a new job.
If Wilkerson doesn’t get back on track, he will not see that money. The Jets have shown this offseason that they are not afraid to move on from veterans if they are not living up to their contracts. Wilkerson is still relatively young at 27 years old, but if he is not living up to his contract he could find himself off the roster at this time next year.