The Packers have agreed to terms with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s a one-year deal, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), and Wilkerson will collect $5MM with the chance to earn $3MM via incentives, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.
Green Bay was the first free agent stop for Wilkerson following his release from the Jets, but the Packers were hardly the only club interested in the former All-Pro. The Chiefs, Saints, and Redskins all took visits with Wilkerson, while the Raiders were reportedly also eyeing Wilkerson.
With the Packers, Wilkerson will reunite with former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who now holds the same title in Green Bay. He’ll also be sticking in a 3-4 scheme, and will play his familiar defensive end position alongside Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and the rest of the Packers’ defensive line.
Wilkerson, of course, was once one of the premier defensive players in the NFL, but he hasn’t been the same since inking a massive extension with the Jets in 2016. Not only has Wilkerson reportedly had problems with effort, tardiness, and coaches, put his play has slipped, as well. Last year, the 28-year-old appeared in 13 games but graded as just the 50th-best interior defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus. While that was an improvement from his dismal 2016 campaign, Wilkerson was still a far cry from his 2011-15 heyday.
The Packers have now signed two free agents — Wilkerson and tight end Jimmy Graham — before the market even officially opens. That’s a new approach from Green Bay’s front office, which is now headed by Brian Gutekunst, who is apparently more willing than former GM Ted Thompson to engage in the first wave of free agent activity.
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