Report: Jets will use franchise tag on Muhammad Wilkerson

The Jets put themselves in good position with their defensive line by drafting Leonard Williams last year, but they're not just going to let Muhammad Wilkerson walk out the door.

In fact, according to multiple reports (first from Kim Jones of the NFL Network), New York will use the franchise tag on Wilkerson ahead of Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. 

The tag, as we now officially know, will pay Wilkerson $13.6 million on a one-year, guaranteed deal.

What gets interesting is whether Wilkerson is willing to sign his tender. He hasn't sounded excited about the tag previously and has been expecting a new contract for quite some time with no results.

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote recently there's a possibility for a trade once Wilkerson is tagged.

"He may be the best potential free agent on the market, regardless of position, and he just turned 26. There is no way the Jets are letting him walk," La Canfora wrote. "Even if they like the overall composition of their defensive line, this is too big of a difference maker. There has been no negotiating, and tagging him could be a precursor to a trade."

There are several interesting factors in play here.

Mo Wilkerson is getting tagged. (USATSI)

One, the lack of contract. Wilkerson wants to be paid significantly and the Jets don't appear interested in giving him the money he wants. Hence the trade possibility.

Two, Wilkerson's injury at the end of last year. It was a significant one and it's easy to imagine getting hurt changes Wilkerson's outlook on a long-term contract. He knows what a serious injury could do to his earning potential if he plays out the tag.

And three, there are more bodies in play here. Sheldon Richardson would be the guy to get the long-term deal (next year) if Wilkerson doesn't. And Damon Harrison is going to walk into an open market with lots of money to spend. Certainly a winner from that perspective. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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