The New York Jets are expected to release Muhammad Wilkerson before March 16, when his $16.75 million base salary for 2018 becomes fully guaranteed. It's a no-brainer, considering the way he underachieved the last two years. Wilkerson will walk away with a fat bank account (he made $37 million over the last two seasons), and the Jets will get nothing.
Unless they can find a creative way to trade him. Is that even possible?
One Twitter follower proposed an NBA-like trade in which the Jets pay a portion of his salary to facilitate a trade:
#Jetsmail...Rich...Jets trade Mo Wilks(pay 5-10mil of his salary) plus their #6 pick plus 2nd rounder to Cleveland for Browns #1...could that ever happen??— Adam K Mitchell (@adamisallthat) February 11, 2018
I'll give you points for creativity, Adam, but that trade is a non-starter. There are a few reasons, but let's start with this: Wilkerson hasn't played well since 2015 and his value around the league has diminished greatly. I know of one team, anticipating his release, that has mulled the idea of giving him $5 million for 2018 -- and that might be a stretch.
Look at the trade from the Browns' perspective. Why trade for Wilkerson and pay $6.75 million (based on the Jets absorbing $10 million) when they could simply wait until he gets cut and pay less?
If the Browns pick up his onerous contract, which includes $31.5 million in combined salary for 2019 and 2020, they'd probably cut him in a year and all they'd have to show for dropping five spots in the draft is a second-round pick. Not even the Browns would do something like that.
I'm guessing this proposal was inspired by the Brock Osweiler trade from the Houston Texans to the Browns, who agreed to accept Osweiler's ridiculous $16 million salary because they got a second-round pick from Houston. But here's the difference:
If the Browns make the Wilkerson trade with the Jets, they'd be losing significant draft capital, based on the commonly used trade value chart. (By the way, the chart often gets tossed out the window when a top pick is being auctioned because it sparks a bidding war.)
The Jets could sweeten the proposal by throwing in their second pick in the second round, but you have the think the Browns would get a better offer from another team if they put the No. 1 pick up for auction, one that doesn't entail paying money to a player on the decline.
Bottom line, Adam: Wilkerson and his obscene contract are immovable.