Muhammad Wilkerson, Packers Agree to Contract After 7 Seasons with Jets

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured Columnist

FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 file photo, New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) walks the sidelines during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. Muhammad Wilkerson was 10 when his mother had breast cancer. Wilkerson honored 96 _ the number of his jersey _ breast cancer survivors at a three-course luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 at Central Park restaurant not far from where he grew up. October is the NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness month. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

After seven seasons with the New York Jets, defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson agreed to a deal with the Green Bay Packers, ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky reported on March 13.

On Monday, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the one-year contract is worth $4.7 million with a $1.5 million signing bonus to go with a $1 million reporting bonus. Wilkerson's deal also contains $2.75 million in incentives, per Silverstein.

The Packers announced the deal on March 15.

Working out a contract with Wilkerson continued a busy day for the Packers, who also agreed to a deal with tight end Jimmy Graham and released wide receiver Jordy Nelson, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

New York officially released Wilkerson on Feb. 28. The Jets had placed the franchise tag on Wilkerson in 2016 to prevent him from hitting free agency, but his future with the team remained in doubt.

That seemed to change, however, when he was signed to a five-year, $86 million contract extension before the 2016 campaign, according to Spotrac.

New York struggled through a miserable 2016 campaign, though, and Wilkerson's production dropped off steeply to just 58 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

Wilkerson fell off even more in 2017 to 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 13 games. 

Head coach Todd Bowles made Wilkerson a healthy scratch in each of the final three games of the 2017 campaign.

That represented a huge fall from grace for Wilkerson.

The 2011 first-round pick made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2015 after registering 64 tackles and a career-high 12 sacks.

He also posted double-digit sacks in 2013 with 10.5, and he has 44.5 sacks in 105 career games despite largely playing in a 3-4 defensive front.

In addition to that, the Temple alum has missed just seven games in seven NFL seasons, although he did break his leg in the Jets' final regular-season game in 2015.

Wilkerson has proved to be a disruptive force against both the pass and the run when healthy and motivated, which could make him a steal of a signing.

Although there are some concerns regarding Wilkerson's willingness to give 100 percent game in and game out, the Packers could have a bargain on their hands if he lives up to his potential.

Offense has been Green Bay's biggest key to success in recent years, but the signing of Wilkerson could go a long way toward improving its defense.

With Wilkerson now in the fold, the Packers have a formidable defensive line that also includes Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark.

Wilkerson has a strong resume in terms of rushing the passer, and he could help the Packers go from the middle of the pack in sacks to among the leaders in 2018 despite linebacker Clay Matthews being slowed by constant injuries.

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