Muhammad Wilkerson

Packers’ Wilkerson To Make Full Recovery

It’s rare that a season-ending ankle surgery produces good news, but that’s exactly what happened for Muhammad Wilkerson. There was some concern that Wilkerson’s injury would affect his football future, but Dr. Robert Anderson has informed him that he’ll make a full recovery, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Wilkerson suffered the fractured ankle in Week 3 against the Redskins and the Packers placed him on IR soon after. The painful injury is undoubtedly frustrating for Wilkerson, especially since he joined Green Bay on a one-year platform contract, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.

Wilkerson registered just five tackles through three games this year, but Pro Football Focus rated him in the top 30 for interior defensive linemen. There should be a market for Wilkerson once he returns to full health, though his next deal will be worth a lot less than the five-year, $86MM extension he inked with the Jets in 2016.

Ideally, teams would like to see Wilkerson get back to the form he exhibited in 2015 when he registered 12 sacks en route to a Pro Bowl selection. Wilkerson’s effort and performance slipped over the next two years, forcing the Jets to release him in spite of costly cap implications.

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Packers Place Muhammad Wilkerson On IR

We learned earlier this week that Packers defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was done for the season after undergoing surgery. Today, the team officially placed the 28-year-old on the injured reserve, according to Packers.com. Cornerback Tony Brown has been promoted from the practice squad to take the open roster spot.

Wilkerson suffered some sort of ankle ailment last Sunday’s contest, and the injury has only been described as “significant.” It’s a tough blow for Wilkerson, who was looking to recoup his free agent value after two straight underwhelming seasons. The veteran signed a one-year, $5MM deal with the Packers this offseason, and he had the ability to make an additional $3MM via incentives. The former first-round pick failed to impress through his first three games with Green Bay, compiling only five tackles. For the time being, the team will have to turn to Dean Lowry to start alongside Mike Daniels.

Wilkerson was once one of the top defensive players in the NFL, but he’s seen a decline in production since inking a lucrative extension with the Jets back in 2016. Wilkerson reportedly had problems with effort, tardiness, and coaches during his last few years in New York. Last year, the lineman appeared in 13 games, but he graded as just the 50th-best interior defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus.

Brown, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Alabama, signed with the Packers’ practice squad after being cut by the Chargers. He was touted for his special teams ability during his time in college.

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Packers’ Mo Wilkerson Done For Season

Packers defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson done for the season after undergoing surgery, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky tweets. Exact details of the injury and procedure are not known, but it’s enough to shelve him for the year. 

The Packers signed Wilkerson to a one-year, $5MM deal in March with the opportunity to earn $3MM in incentives. The terms of the incentives package were not revealed, but it’s unlikely that he has earned much in the way of bonuses after just three games on the field.

Wilkerson 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. Wilkerson reportedly had problems with effort, tardiness, and coaches and his level of play slipped as well. Last year, the 28-year-old (29 in October) appeared in 13 games but graded as just the 50th-best interior defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus. This year, Wilkerson tallied five tackles and zero sacks in three starts at defensive end for Green Bay.

Without Wilkerson, the Packers may promote defensive end Dean Lowry to the starting lineup. They’ll also have to make at one addition to the DE group.

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NFC Notes: Julio Jones, Falcons, 49ers, Richburg, Packers, Wilkerson

The Falcons have had to do right by a lot of players recently. They’ve doled out extensions to Devonta Freeman and Matt Ryan and still need to lock up Grady Jarrett and Jake Matthews. Ricardo Allen has also been angling for a new deal. On top of all this, star receiver Julio Jones has made clear his unhappiness with his current contract, and held out of mandatory minicamp in protest.

The team recently informed Jones they had no plans to sweeten his deal, which still has three years remaining on it. Jones is looking at it from the wrong perspective, argues Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bradley thinks that since the Falcons budgeted for the rest of their players under the assumption Jones would play out his deal, it isn’t fair of him to ask the team for a raise. Bradley writes that Jones’ demands are due to “wounded pride” at being the NFL’s seventh-highest paid receiver. It’s unclear how Jones will respond to Atlanta’s refusal, but the team certainly doesn’t want its best player this unhappy. It wouldn’t be surprising if the two sides come to some sort of agreement on additional incentives or some other measure that will satisfy Jones.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

NFC Contract Details: Cousins, Bradford, Poe

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Packers To Sign Muhammad Wilkerson

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.

Heading into the free agent period, Wilkerson ranked as PFR’s No. 3 interior defensive lineman and No. 16 overall free agent.

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FA Rumors: Lewis, Moncrief, Jets, Fuller

Despite having surpassed the 100-touch mark just once in a season, Dion Lewis may well have surged to the point of being the top running back available. And the healthy market expected for the 27-year-old back shows no signs of slowing down. However, the Patriots are going to try to keep Lewis, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. However, he notes Lewis’ price may “far outpace” what the Pats are willing to spend to keep him. The Colts, Titans and Jets look to be the early favorites for Lewis. The Titans being run by former Patriots exec Jon Robinson — who was in New England when the Pats acquired Lewis — and the fact Tennessee just released DeMarco Murray would make the AFC South team a logical suitor. The Jets have passing-down veteran Bilal Powell going into the final year of his contract, and the Colts are without a proven back now that Frank Gore is out of the picture.

New England still has James White and Brandon Bolden under contract. Here’s the latest from the market:

  • The Bears placing their transition tag on Kyle Fuller may not dissuade teams from inquiring about the corner. JLC hears from multiple execs the fifth-year cornerback could be in line to see an offer sheet. However, Chicago holds $50MM in cap space and would seemingly be an obvious threat to match an offer that comes Fuller’s way. La Canfora reports the Packers, Titans, Buccaneers and Texans are doing extensive work researching the cornerback market. With Fuller tagged, Trumaine Johnson and Malcolm Butler are the prizes currently unattached.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson will make his fourth visit on Monday, meeting with the Redskins, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). One of the top defensive UFAs available, the eighth-year defensive lineman has already visited the Packers, Saints and Chiefs.
  • Donte Moncrief is likely to exit Indianapolis, and the Ravens are interested, La Canfora hears. The Ravens, as of now, possess less than $5MM in cap space. But with Moncrief perhaps in line for a one-year deal after an inconsistent Colts tenure, La Canfora writes Baltimore is in the mix for the athletic target.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the Jets may be a bit out of sync as far as terms go, but the team remains intent on retaining the tight end, per JLC. Now armed with the most cap space in the league, the Jets would be able to meet ASJ’s reported $7MM-AAV asking price. But it’s uncertain if they will. La Canfora connects the Falcons and Seahawks as being interested in Seferian-Jenkins.
  • The Broncos are expected to have interest in Ja’Wuan James if the Dolphins are intent on gauging trade offers for their four-year right tackle, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Denver, which has started four different right tackles in its past four season openers, is again in need of a right tackle. Although John Elway said Menelik Watson will be back, it’s hard to believe the Broncos wouldn’t try to upgrade after their most recent right tackle signee did not fare well.

Raiders Interested In Muhammad Wilkerson

Muhammad Wilkerson‘s free agency tour has logged three Central Time Zone stops, and the eighth-year defender will next be making a trip back east when he meets with the Redskins.

But the veteran defensive end has not been shy about being eager to see what the market looks like, and a trip to a third time zone could be next. The Raiders are also interested in Wilkerson, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The parties have yet to schedule a visit, but Wilkerson is set to embark on his fourth trip — to Washington D.C. after he wraps up a Kansas City meeting — and reports have indicated he’s open to more. The legal tampering period opening on Monday could complicate matters, with a slew of UFAs now available to speak with teams, but Wilkerson is one of the best interior defenders on the market.

The Raiders will use a 4-3 scheme under Paul Guenther, but the Saints do as well. Wilkerson sounds amenable to playing in a 4-3 set for the first time, if the money is right.

Oakland re-signed Justin Ellis on Friday but could be losing Denico Autry in free agency and has Mario Edwards entering a contract year. And the second-round investment the franchise made in Jihad Ward two years ago has not yet panned out.

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Muhammad Wilkerson To Visit Redskins

A fourth known suitor for Muhammad Wilkerson has emerged, and others are on the horizon. The former Jets defensive end will visit the Redskins after his Chiefs summit concludes, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets.

The eighth-year defensive lineman has already met with the Packers and Saints, and La Canfora reports other teams are hoping to speak with the 28-year-old free agent.

Wilkerson planned on casting a wide net as a first-time unaffiliated NFLer, and he’s proceeding on that schedule. The Redskins, like the Packers and Chiefs, use a 3-4 scheme. The Saints are the only team he’s met with thus far that do not, but it doesn’t sound like that would be a deal-breaker for he nor a team judging by the market that’s developed for the seven-year Jets cog.

Washington has the most cap space of any of the known prospective Wilkerson buyers, sitting at $31MM-plus. The Redskins have some capable defensive ends but no one on Wilkerson’s level, at least Wilkerson at his best. While it’s not known if he’ll return to that form, several teams are betting he can help their defensive fronts.

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Muhammad Wilkerson To Visit Saints, Chiefs

Muhammad Wilkerson wrapped up his visit with the Packers and intends to see what other teams have to offer.

While the Packers are not believed to be out of the running, Wilkerson will now head south and meet with the Saints, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

And Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets the Chiefs will be next on the defensive end’s itinerary, adding that Wilkerson is not yet in the negotiating stage of his process yet.

Wilkerson’s Packers two-day summit went “very well,” according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). The veteran defensive lineman’s agent told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky the plan all along was to gauge interest from multiple teams. Part of the Packers’ intentions during Wilkerson’s Wisconsin trek was determining if he’d be comfortable in the league’s smallest market, Silverstein tweets, adding the Packers are now expected to move to the financial component of this process.

The Saints would make for an interesting fit. Wilkerson has played as a 3-4 defensive end throughout his career, and New Orleans saw an improvement last season while lining up in a 4-3 scheme. However, with nickel packages having replaced base sets as the new predominant look, it might not represent that much of a change for the eighth-year player.

Kansas City, though, does use a 3-4 scheme and has a need for front-seven assistance. The team has emerging dynamo Chris Jones at one defensive end spot and possible cap casualty Allen Bailey at the other. Wilkerson would likely represent an upgrade on Bailey but would almost certainly cost more as well — especially if this is now a race involving several teams. Like the Packers, who just hired Mike Pettine as DC, the Chiefs have a former Jets assistant in that role in Bob Sutton. The sixth-year K.C. DC was a senior defensive assistant during Wilkerson’s first two years.

Saints DC Dennis Allen doesn’t have a Jets tie, but the improving team has defensive-front space available alongside Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins.

None of these three early contenders are projected to be among the league’s top cap-space franchises this year, so there doesn’t appear to be a distinct advantage in this pursuit compared to competitions for other high-profile free agents.

Wilkerson was one of the best defenders in football over a stretch during the early and middle part of this decade, but after breaking his leg in Week 17 of the 2015 season, he hasn’t been quite the same. Trouble with Jets coaches followed, and Gang Green had to abandon another big Mike Maccagnan-era contract.

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