Muhammad Wilkerson Leaves Green Bay Without a Deal
All we heard all week was how free agent defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and the Green Bay Packers had mutual interest. It was repeatedly pointed out that Wilkerson chose to visit the Packers first. It was also repeatedly pointed out that Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was Wilkerson’s first DC with the New York Jets.
You know what all that means? Jack shit, at least at this point.
Not surprisingly, Wilkerson left Green Bay without signing a deal. He’ll now continue his free agent tour.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2018
The Kansas City Chiefs are the third known team on the Wilkerson tour.
So what of the Packers?
Usually how these things go is if the player leaves town without signing a contract, they aren’t coming back. However, some players have become more prudent and like to weigh all of their options before making a final decision.
Wilkerson is said to be one of those players. He reportedly won’t negotiate with anyone until he finishes his visits.
Mo Wilkerson not in a negotiating phase yet. Wants to explore multiple teams first. Left Green Bay and will visit Saints and Chiefs next
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 8, 2018
So what were the two sides chatting about over the past two days? Motivation and the Green Bay market, according to Tom Silverstein.
Important part for #Packers was that they were able to find out how motivated Wilkerson is and if he’d be comfortable in Green Bay. Economics are next. It’s a part of it for both sides. Other visits are part of the process.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) March 8, 2018
Now the Packers need to decide if they can and if they want to pay Wilkerson. Earlier this week, it was announced that the Packers have a little more than $15 million in salary cap space, which is near the bottom of the league. Wilkerson was making around $16 million annually before being released by the Jets. It’s unknown what his asking price will be.
If the Packers do want Wilkerson, this will certainly be new general manager Brian Gutekunst’s first real test on the job.
How much do they pay? Can they make a competitive offer? How do they keep flexibility with their cap space?
The next week will be telling for the new regime. The fact that the Packers even showed interest and took the meeting at least says it isn’t business as usual. But can or will they make it work?