Former first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson hasn’t lived up to the bare minimum expectations for the New York Jets.
When the New York Jets drafted Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, there was excitement. The Jets were coming off of their second-straight AFC Championship Game appearance and seemed destined for great things.
While the Jets record plummeted and they haven’t been to the playoffs since, Wilkerson was doing his part. In the first three years of his career, he exponentially increased his sack total each season: (2011, three sacks), (2012, five sacks), (2013, 10.5 sacks).
The 2014 season was an off year for several reasons, but that was simply the appetizer to the magnificent campaign that Wilkerson had in 2015. A career high in sacks (12) made it seem like he was on the precipice of reaching his potential.
But in Week 17 of his marvelous campaign, he broke his leg and his future suddenly was uncertain. Would the Jets pay him for what he did in the past or hope he could make a full recovery?
This complicated contract negotiations on both sides. So much so that the contract talks went all the way to the franchise-tag deadline, where the Jets decided to take the leap of faith.
Excitement poured from the Jets fan base and media
I am a happy that the Jets took care of one of there own!! Pay dat man his money!!!! Congrats Muhammad Wilkerson, you deserve it!!!!
— Ray Lucas (@RayLucas06) July 16, 2016
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 15, 2016
Panthers DT Kawann Short said he was happy to see Muhammad Wilkerson and Fletcher Cox get paid. "Big guys, we need love too."
— Joe Person (@josephperson) July 27, 2016
I was among those throwing rose petals at Wilkerson’s feet. “You deserve it” tweets were pouring all over Twitter. Finally, a homegrown star would see that second contract and he could be the face of the franchise!
Per NFL.com’s Marc Sessler:
“NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported via NFL.com that Wilkerson’s extension will pay him roughly $17 million per season over five seasons, per a source who has seen the contract. The pact, worth $86 million in full (including $53.5 million in guarantees over three years, $36.75 million fully guaranteed through Year Two and a $15 million signing bonus) will pay the Jets centerpiece more than Houston’s J.J. Watt.”
With that kind of money, the expectations were sky high and understandably so. Wilkerson was supposed to maintain his dominant play, if not increase some of those video game numbers on defense.
But that’s where everything went wrong. Over the last two seasons, since he got paid, he’s combined for just 90 tackles and seven sacks. But to be honest, it’s not the crappy play that bothers me most.
Everyone has bad stretches. The real issue is what he can control—like showing up to work! A basic premise of working is showing up and doing what you were hired to do. I freelance write articles and do sports talk radio every day. If I don’t show up, the radio is silent. Likely I’m fined or fired if I just show up late to work.
Wilkerson has failed the basic principles of life and has been lackadaisical in his preparation and his attention to detail is nonexistent. If you can’t show up to work on time—if at all—how can you possibly perform on Sundays?
He’s reportedly shown up late to meetings all season, but this has been a recurring issue for him over the last several years.
I feel disgusted that I defended you to the masses. You’ve left a bad taste in the mouth of the Jets. A team, mind you, that hasn’t paid its’ own players over the years but decided to “reward” you. Clearly that was a mistake and, hopefully, another NFL team doesn’t fall into that same trap. You only care about yourself—not the team. That kind of selfish behavior doesn’t deserve our undivided attention any longer.
I’m embarrassed, disgusted, and furious. You could have been a Gang Green legend, Mo. Now you’re just like gangrene—something nobody wants and, should they get it, hopes to be rid of as quickly as possible.