Are the Jets having buyers remorse after awarding defensive star Muhammad Wilkerson a 5 year $86 million contract? I wouldn't go that far just yet, but his recent actions have caused many to question the signing.
Many fans were surprised last Sunday to see both Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson riding the bench as the Jets trotted out for their first defensive series. After the game Head Coach Todd Bowles would only state that it was a coach's decision, however logic clearly suggested it was a disciplinary issue.
It was revealed that both were benched for missing team activities. With the media having access to the players, Wilkerson decided to shed some more light on the incident, admitting he had been late to meetings and even missed the teams walk through the day before their victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
Wilkerson knows that as a veteran on this team and as a leader, he needs to do better. Worryingly his attitude has never been called into question before, the only difference between this year and every other? He has the contract he so desperately wanted. Speaking to the NY Post, Wilkerson stated:
“Those actions are unacceptable and I definitely feel as a leader on this team I definitely need to do better,” Wilkerson said. “I respect the coaches and everybody in this building. I take responsibility for my actions. Moving forward, it won’t be an issue. I know as a leader on this team I have to show better, do better. That’s something I will do.”
“This is a distraction, clearly,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t want to be a distraction. That’s not me. It’s not my character. It’s not me as a teammate. Moving forward, it won’t be an issue for me.”
Wilkerson is currently struggling through the worst year of his career. Totalling just 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks and failing to force a fumble. It's a far cry from his impressive 2015 where he racked up 64 tackles, 12 sacks, 7 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles. Some have wondered if the broken leg he suffered in the Jets 2015 season finale against the Bills has continued to affect him this year, and at countless points he's found himself on the injury report.
Wilkerson will need a strong second half to ensure he lives up to the contract bestowed on him by the Jets front office.
Richardson who was also benched wasn't quite as forthcoming with an apology...in that he didn't apologise at all, and despite team sources confirming he misses meetings all the time, he claimed it was just once. I'm not overly surprised that Richardson doesn't believe being late for meetings is a big deal.