Muhammad Wilkerson’s agent made it clear that his client will be healthy and ready to go for the 2016 season.
But his choice of words raised an even bigger question: Will the defensive end be a New York Jet this season?
“Barring any major setbacks with rehab,” his representative, Chad Wiestling tweeted Saturday morning, “Mo Wilkerson will indeed be playing for someone at beginning of 2016 NFL season!”
Wiestling likely was trying to put to rest any concern about Wilkerson’s health. The defensive end is rehabbing from a broken right leg, which he suffered in the Jets’ Week 17 loss in Buffalo. On Friday morning, Wilkerson posted a video of himself walking on a treadmill inside the Jets’ training facility with the caption: “No crutches, no boot! Gr8 to be on Alter G in compression sock & sneakers. Staying ahead of schedule; coming back better than ever.”
But later that night, Wilkerson expressed uncertainty about when he expects to return to the field.
As of now, he’s not even sure he’ll be ready by Week 1.
“I don’t know when,” the Jets’ star, who was at the Barclays Center during Temple’s 72-70 overtime-loss to Iowa in first-round NCAA Tournament, told the New York Daily News. Wilkerson is a Temple alum.
“I’m just going to take it one day at a time,” he said. “When I feel like I’m ready to go out there and be 100 percent and play at an elite level, then that’s when I’ll be out there.”
The next morning, Wiestling felt compelled to clear up any confusion about his client’s rehab schedule. But his tweet — and the word “someone” — managed to raise eyebrows.
Wilkerson, 26, has been seeking a new contract, to no avail, since 2014.
The Jets placed the franchise-tag on him for 2016, meaning he’ll be paid $15.7 million this season if he remains on the roster. The Jets, however, need to start clearing more salary-cap space to better address other free-agent signings and the upcoming draft.
One way to do that is by trading Wilkerson, who had a career-high 12 sacks last year.
During a Friday conference call with beat writers, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said the team isn’t “actively pursuing” trade partners for Wilkerson. But that doesn’t mean the organization won’t listen to offers.