New York Jets set to franchise DE Muhammad Wilkerson

By The Sports Xchange   |   March 1, 2016 at 12:24 AM
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Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will get the franchise tag from the New York Jets before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday.

ESPN and NFL Network reported the Jets could use the marker to retain the 26-year-old Pro Bowl lineman only to trade him in order to alleviate the Jets' salary cap issues.

The franchise tag would pay Wilkerson $15.7 million for 2016 unless a long-term deal is worked out before July 15.

Wilkerson is one of two Jets' starting defensive linemen entering free agency. Nose tackle Damon Harrison is also a pending free agent, but the Jets believe the defensive line is a position of strength after drafting Leonard Williams sixth overall in the 2015 draft. Harrison is expected to be a popular target in free agency.

Wilkerson is likely to be given the nonexclusive franchise tag, which permits players to negotiate with other teams. The Jets would receive two first-round picks as compensation if they decline to match an offer sheet.

But because of the high salary, few suitors would be inclined to pay Wilkerson -- reportedly seeking $40 million guaranteed on a long-term deal -- and give up draft compensation.

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