The New York Jets have officially placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. The news that the team would be doing so was first reported by Kimberly Jones of NFL.com. Wilkerson just finished the fifth year of his rookie contract after the team made him a first-round pick back in 2011.
The two sides tried to get a deal done following his fourth year in the league, but Wilkerson broke off contract negotiations and elected to play out the 2015 season on his rookie deal. He had all the confidence in his own ability to earn a bigger deal and he turned in a fantastic 2015 campaign.
Wilkerson compiled 64 tackles and 12 sacks this past season. He also had a pair of forced fumbles, and played in all 16 games after missing three of them back in 2014. The Jets area defensive-minded team, and drafted Leonard Williams in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Some thought Williams might make Wilkerson expendable, but at the end of the day, a line that features both players is simply that much better.
A long-term deal is likely the goal between Wilkerson and the Jets but a dollar amount is hard to gauge. J.J. Watt is at the top as far as the position is concerned, but his massive deal probably isn't a starting or even an end point for Wilkerson. If the two sides can't work out a new deal before July 15, Wilkerson will earn $15.7 million in 2016 under the franchise tag.