Although most in the know believe Muhammad Wilkerson is as good as gone, should the New York Jets make a specific trade he could be kept.
By Robby Sabo
There are two very different schools of thought surrounding the situation the New York Jets find themselves in with Muhammad Wilkerson.
The hardened NFL mind understands what Maccagnan is doing. He knows how difficult it is to pay not one, not two, but three defensive lineman in a 3-4 scheme under the rigors of today’s salary cap.
He realizes the value in trading away Wilkerson.
On the other hand, the more relaxed fan might wonder aloud why the Jets are so eager to ship Big Mo out of town. They sit there and think to themselves, “why trade away such a talent at such a young age (26)?
They ask, “isn’t that the point of building a team, to keep the absolute best players?”
Neither fan, or school of thought is wrong. Both sides of the token have valid points in terms of true value, because that what this argument really boils down to.
What if there was a way for New York to obtain Wilkerson for 2016 and beyond, all while remaining very comfortable by way of the salary cap?
That’s where the third side of this argument comes flying in to make a late desperate plea.
First and foremost, many believed the $9 million that was suddenly freed up thanks to the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson would be the ticket to their quarterback paradise. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to many reports, the Jets were under $1 million in total cap space. Maccagnan would’ve had to do plenty of moving and shaking if Fitzpatrick returned on a deal around the $9 or $10 million per year mark.
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) April 2, 2016
D'Brickashaw Ferguson's retirement will free up $9.1 million of salary cap space for the Jets, who now need to fill that void at LT. #nyj
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) April 8, 2016
That was before they traded for Ryan Clady.
Now, after the restructuring of the deal of the oft-injured two-time NFL All-Pro, the Jets find themselves with about $4 million in cap space (not including money reserved for rookie signings). This, all for a guy who missed the entire 2015 season and all but two games in 2013.
The obvious point though, is this restructure of Clady’s contract means there’s not enough space to make Fitzpatrick work.
The details on Ryan Clady's contract with Jets, per source: It's been restructured for 2016 with a 1-year option for a raise in 2017
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) April 10, 2016
Does Maccagnan have something up his sleeve in order to sign Fitzpatrick as soon as today? Of course he does. One veteran cap casualty suspect is right tackle Breno Giacomini, whose cap hit is a cool $5.625 million for 2016.
Why though, if you have another option, would you decide to go through cap hell when it’s not necessary?
Mike Glennon just isn’t a backup quarterback based on getting beat out by somebody who out shined him. He’s a guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The only reason he hasn’t seen the field since 2014 is because his team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finished dead last in the league, granting them the overall No. 1 selection in the 2015 NFL Draft (Jameis Winston).
Glennon is no bum. This is a kid whose short NFL career has garnered much attention. His 4,025 yards and 29-15 TD/INT ratio through his first 18 games started is evidence enough.
This is also why he’s still in Tampa. Because he is so talented, and the league knows this, the Bucs asking price has been a first or a second. Nobody will provide that compensation for a guy who’s pretty much stuck in a backup role. The league would rather force Tampa’s hand into either trading him for less than par-value, or waiting until his deal expires.
Now, Glennon is in the last year of his rookie deal. He’s scheduled to make $1,830,375 in 2016.
It’s so obvious, yet so perfect. Trading a third or fourth round pick to Tampa for Glennon would not only solve the Jets salary cap problems for the short term, but potentially provide the organization with a franchise quarterback for many years to come.
Think about how hard it is to find a franchise guy behind center. If you’re a fan of the Jets, you understand. Not since No. 12 graced Shea Stadium have they felt the experience.
Getting creative is oftentimes the ticket to QB paradise in a league that makes it so difficult to get there.
Of course, we know very little about what Glennon’s going to turn out to be, but at least he has that chance to turn into something special. Ryan Fitzpatrick does not. Fitz is who he is. He’s a journeyman QB who broke the Jets single-season passing touchdown record with a cool 31 in 2015.
He isn’t the future. Nor do some fans think he’s the present.
What a Glennon move would do is allow the Jets to immediately negotiate a long-term deal with Wilkerson. This would suddenly open up more cap space in the short-term and lock up the best talent on the team.
Then, when the 2016 offseason rolls around, Sheldon Richardson could be the odd-man out (as he’s currently on the last year of his rookie deal). Why plan to keep Richardson – the guy who’s been such a wild card off the field – and sell off Wilkerson?
Most understand both will be tough to trade. Teams are already reluctant to provide value for Wilkerson right now, so why would anybody give up anything for Richardson?
Glennon fits the bill at 6-7 and 225 lbs. He’s a third round pick and a guy who Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson vouches for (former college teammate at N.C. State). Should Maccagnan roll the dice on this young gunslinger with a cannon of an arm and a fearless mentality, he’d suddenly be able to lockup Wilkerson long-term.
Now tell me that’s not music to your ears?
Besides, who’s to say Fitzpatrick can be better than Glennon over the course of 16 games in 2016?
Nobody can say that. At least with Glennon, Wilkerson is kept and a future at the most important position in football is possible. And at the very least, if Glennon didn’t work out, the Jets would be stuck in the same position they’d be with Fitz: Holding the bag with no franchise QB.
I’ll go to battle with Glennon and Wilkerson over Fitzpatrick and no Big Mo any day of the week. Or more specifically, on Sundays.