STORY UPDATE - MARCH 1st 4PM: The Jets announced that they have officially placed the franchise tag on DE Muhammad Wilkerson.
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - The deadline for teams to designate one of their free agents with the franchise tag is 4 pm tomorrow but according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News and the NFL Network's Kimberly Jones the Jets will indeed use the tag on Muhammad Wilkerson.
This is, of course, not a surprising move but it appears that we are one step closer to seeing Wilkerson back playing with the Jets for at least one more season. Wilkerson would earn $15.7 million for this season if he plays the season under the tag but he and the Jets will have until July 15 to try and work out a contract extension that can pay Wilkerson what he feels is deserves, gives him long-term security and gets his cap number down to a more manageable number.
Other teams are still free to negotiate with Wilkerson on a long-term contract but they would have to be willing to give up two first round draft picks plus give Wilkerson the big money contract he is seeking and as good a player as Wilkerson is he isn't that good. As Mehta points out the Jets still have to option to trade Wilkerson as well but teams are going to be hesitant to give the Jets proper value on return plus give Wilkerson a big extension.
Which means, as has been the case all along, all signs point to Wilkerson playing with the Jets in 2016. However, if the two sides can't reach an agreement on an extension by July 15 then it will make it all the more likely 2016 would be his final year with the Jets.
For now placing the tag on Wilkerson takes $15.7 million off of their current available salary cap money. Before tagging Wilkerson the Jets had just over $23 million in cap space but Wilkerson will take most of that and leave the Jets with just over $7 million in cap space. Obviously more moves will be coming to free up more money (cutting Breno Giacomini, Jeremy Kerley and Jeff Cumberland and restructuring D'Brickashaw Ferguson's contract for example) for the team to try and re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, Damon Harrison, Erin Henderson and Bilal Powell.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)