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Jets won’t commit to putting Muhammad Wilkerson back into the lineup

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Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Muhammad Wilkerson did not travel with the Jets for Sunday’s game against the Saints due to a coaching decision. Reports late last week indicated it was due to the defensive lineman being late for a meeting. This is the fourth time in the last three years the Jets have disciplined Wilkerson for a lateness issue.

Todd Bowles indicated Wilkerson returned to the team on Monday, but the head coach would not commit to reinserting the former Pro Bowler into the lineup this weekend against the Chargers.

As you can see from the transcript, Bowles had to answer the question truthfully, but he really, really, really doesn’t want to litigate this situation in the media beyond that.

On if Muhammad Wilkerson will be back this week…

He’s in the building today.

On if Wilkerson will play next Sunday…

I didn’t say that. I said he’s in the building today. We’re still working through things.

On if he expects Wilkerson to practice on Wednesday…

We’ll see. It’s an internal thing. We’re still working through some things and we’ll go from there.

On if it is possible that Wilkerson will be held out of the final two games…

It’s an internal thing. We haven’t worked through everything yet, but we’ll work through them and you guys will know when we make a decision.

On what will factor into that decision…

It’s an internal thing. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

On if he has had the chance to talk with Wilkerson today…

No. I was in meetings.

On if Wilkerson reported as he normally would on a Monday…

Correct.

On what goes into an internal decision…

Internal means internal.

On if he can clarify what “internal” means…

It’s not meant for you to (know). When we make a decision, we’ll let you guys know. That’s all I have to say about it.

On if this will be his decision or if other people will be involved…

It will be a lot of people involved in this.

On how frustrating this situation has been…

I’m kind of through talking about (Wilkerson). If you guys have anything else, I’ll answer, but I’ve said all I have to say about that situation.

Reinserting Wilkerson into the lineup doesn’t make any sense for one simple reason. His contract is guaranteed for injury next season. That means in the event Wilkerson suffers a catastrophic injury, the Jets are on the hook for his $16.75 million salary.

The Jets are looking at a lot of cap space entering the offseason. Just owning a lot of cap space is no justification for wasting additional cap space, though. There is no way the team can keep Wilkerson at a $20 million cap hit. The Jets can get $11 million of that back by cutting him. That gets put in jeopardy if Wilkerson is on the field.

It would be one thing if the Jets were still alive in the Playoff mix. It would be one thing if Wilkerson seemed at all interested about doing his best for the team.

There just isn’t a reason to keep sending him out there.