1. Give DE Muhammad Wilkerson his estimated $15.5 million franchise tag.
Out of all the top free agents set to hit the open market, Wilkerson may be the most likely to receive the franchise tag (except perhaps the Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller). Despite suffering a broken leg in the final game of the season, Wilkerson’s value is clear–he was Gang Green’s best pass rusher once again in 2015, racking up a career-high 12 sacks, and at only 26 years old his best football is still ahead of him.
Franchising Wilkerson is a no-brainer. The question is how this team is going to move forward after they do so. Wilkerson’s tag is projected to be in the $15 million range, which would wipe out New York’s cap space and make it difficult for them to re-sign some of their other top free agents–Ryan Fitzpatrick, Damon Harrison, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, to name a few.
Perhaps the bigger question mark surrounding the Wilkerson situation is whether he and Maccagnan will be able to agree on a long-term contract. They have until Jul. 15 to get a long-term deal done, and based on the way negotiations went last season both sides are likely to take it to the very end once again.
Depending on whether Maccagnan can free up enough cap space and re-work enough contracts to make a long-term contract for Mo Wilk financially possible, a tag-and-trade could be in play here. However, that wouldn’t happen for months and is a last resort.
Right now only one thing is for sure: Muhammad Wilkerson is going to receive the franchise tag some time between now and March 1.