According to GM Mike Maccagnan the Jets aren't "actively pursuing" trading Muhammad Wilkerson but he stopped way short of saying he won't trade the star defensive end.
"It's not something we're actively pursuing," Maccagnan said. "But at the end of the day, he is under the franchise tag, so we'll see how this thing plays out."
Which translated from GM speech to English means 'any interested teams, call us. We'll listen, but come with a serious offer because we're not desperate to get rid of him.' The only problem with that is the Jets are kind of acting like they're desperate to get rid of him. They have no money and yet they keep signing players, Maccagnan also openly admitted he's willing to raise his offer for Ryan Fitzpatrick, and they still have plenty of holes to fill plus need about $5 million in cap space to sign their draft picks. They can still free up money through cuts and/or restructuring contracts but trading Wilkerson would be by far the easiest way to do so and it would clear up $15.7 million.
Making things more interesting is Wilkerson giving us yet another Instagram update on the progress he's making. Instagram update
And his agent sent out a not-so cryptic tweet. cryptic tweet Wilkerson could, of course, just be happy to share the news that he's ahead of schedule to return but he could also be more interested letting other teams know the injury won't slow him down next year.
It's obviously good news that Wilkerson will be ready by the start of the season but agent's won't typically say their client will be ready to play "somewhere" unless they are trying to get out of where they are. John Idzik wasn't able to get close to a deal with Wilkerson and neither has Maccagnan - and that was before Olivier Vernon tore right through the ceiling of the defensive end market and added another level - after all this time it becomes more and more likely that the two sides will never get close enough.
Making matters worse is the presence of Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. If the Jets only had one of those players they would be much more inclined to give Wilkerson the money he wants but it's hard to justify paying him that much to create a three-man logjam at the position. What the Jets need is a team like the Raiders or Jaguars, who have plenty of money they have to spend, to decide it's worth a couple of draft picks to get a sure thing in Wilkerson that would immediately improve their defense and they'd be able to afford because they have money that has to be spent.
"I don't really want to talk about hypotheticals for any players on our roster right now, what we may or may not want to do with anybody, or be open or not to," Maccagnan said. "But I do realize that with all players on our roster, you have to look at every player individually, and if you have an opportunity to better the team."
So, the question isn't does Wilkerson make the Jets a better team? Because of course he does, he would make any team better, but would the team be made better by using that $15.7 million at other positions? And it's looking more and more like trading Wilkerson would be what's best for both the Jets and Wilkerson.
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)