Two years after big-money deal, Jets release disappointing Muhammad Wilkerson

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist

Not long ago, the New York Jets were all in on defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, signing the 2011 first-round pick to a five-year, $86 million contract extension in 2015.

But given his actions the past couple of years, it seems Wilkerson cashed in and checked out.

And now he’s just out.

The Jets announced on Wednesday that they’ve released Wilkerson with a simple tweet, in a move that was not a surprise.

The team’s announcement of the transaction is in stark contrast to the series of tweets and retweets and team website story posted just a couple of hours earlier, after running back Matt Forte – who spent just two seasons with New York – announced his retirement.

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The New York Jets cut defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson on Wednesday.<br>(AP)
The New York Jets cut defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson on Wednesday.

If we’re to read into the contrast in reactions, they’re not broken up about the decision to cut ties with Wilkerson.

The 28-year-old Wilkerson was suspended by the team twice last season, and four times in three years.

His second suspension in 2017 happened late in the season, after Wilkerson showed up late to a team meeting on a Friday, according to; he was kept home from the team’s Week 15 game in New Orleans, and didn’t play another game for the team.

Just two weeks before the Week 15 incident, he was benched for the first quarter of a game against the Chiefs, reportedly after missing several meetings earlier in the year, including two in the week leading up to that game.

He was also benched in 2016 for tardiness.

If the Jets hadn’t cut Wilkerson by March 16, just a couple of days into the start of the new league year, his $16.75 million salary for 2018 would have become guaranteed.

Wilkerson had a stellar season in 2015: 12 sacks, seven pass breakups, three forced fumbles and 64 total tackles; it led to his only Pro Bowl appearance (he’d totaled 10.5 sacks in 2013). The Jets rewarded him after that performance with the huge deal, and Wilkerson never came close to matching that production again.

In 15 games in 2016, he had 4.5 sacks, and in 13 games last year, he had just 3.5.

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