We continue our countdown of the 2017 Jets roster today with number 96 Muhammad Wilkerson.
Name: Muhammad Wilkerson
Year with Jets: 7th
Projected role: Star defensive lineman getting a lion’s share of the snaps while lining up in multiple places
His 2016: After getting the franchise tag, Wilkerson’s multiyear standoff with the Jets finally ended with the star defensive lineman inking a 5 year, $86 million deal with the team. It seemed like good news. Wilkerson was coming off his best season and had emerged as one of the best linemen in the NFL. His 2016 season was pretty much a disaster, though. After an excellent opener that saw him post 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks, Wilkerson’s production fell off the face of the earth. He finished 2016 with only 58 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Even worse, as the season was circling the drain, a team in need of leadership saw one of its best players take on the role of antileader. Wilkerson was benched for a portion of a game against Miami for being late to a team meeting and later bashed his teammates in the secondary to the media. While some of his points were technically correct, pointing the finger at others when you aren’t doing your job seldom comes off well.
2017 will be a success if: Wilkerson’s season is a complete 180 from what we saw in 2016. The Jets need him to be one of the best defensive players in the NFL. There’s no other acceptable outcome. Sometimes we can get overly ambitious with our expectations of players, but expectations should be sky high for a player with an $18 million cap number. Being a solid starter isn’t good enough. Wilkerson also needs to hold himself a heck of a lot more accountable. It doesn’t look good when the best player on the team is getting benched for being late to a meeting or pointing the finger at others.
Odds of making the roster: Lock (>99%)