About midway through his end-of-season sit-down with reporters Tuesday in Florham Park, acting Jets owner Christopher Johnson was asked how disappointed he is with the way defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson finished the 2017 season.
Wilkerson, of course, was a healthy scratch for the final three games of the year. He was left home for the Jets’ loss at the Saints in Week 15 after arriving late to a team meeting for at least the second time this season. He was also the highest-paid player on the roster – by far.
Johnson listened to the question and sighed deeply. He paused for 11 seconds to collect his thoughts.
“I really just have to discuss it with Mike and Todd,” Johnson said, referring to his general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles. “And I’ll keep my discussion of a particular player to myself right now.”
Muhammad Wilkerson has been a disappointment since signing a contract extension in 2015.
The silence spoke louder than any words. Wilkerson’s Jets career is finished. The team will cut him this offseason to save $ 11 million in cap space, as the Daily News first reported last month.
Maccagnan, who gave Wilkerson a five-year, $ 86 million deal before the 2015 season, stayed diplomatic Tuesday when discussing the massive disappointment who virtually stole $ 37 million from the organization.
“Every contract you sign a player to, you have expectations for that contract, and some of those expectations are in terms of productivity. When you’re signing a large contract, you obviously are expecting a player to perform at a high level,” Maccagnan said. “Now for whatever reason, players may not perform at that level. I’m not going to sit here and weigh in on one particular player because this will play itself out here over time. But again, you have to make business decisions -business decisions in terms of the evaluation of the allocation of your resources, and the way the contract was situated. For example with Mo…we kind of had a two-year window and had the ability to make an evaluation after those two years.
“With any player you sign, you want them to fulfill their potential and to perform at a high level. But in this business, you’re dealing with a lot of things and sometimes things don’t work out the way you’d them to. But you analyze that, you move forward, and you keep on trying to make decisions that are going to help this team.”
When asked if there’s any chance Wilkerson will be on the team next season, Maccagnan deflected.
“I’m not going to speculate on any particular player who is going to be on or off the team,” he said. “Those things will work themselves out here over time before free agency.”