Amid Sunday's postgame euphoria, Rex Ryan made a passing comment about how the New York Jets "may have the best defensive player in the league right now" -- an obvious reference to Muhammad Wilkerson.
Ryan was asked Monday to elaborate and he clammed up. With Wilkerson poised to land a monster contract in the offseason, Ryan must have been told by the John Idzik police to avoid a repeat of the Darrelle Revis situation a few years back, when he basically called Revis the greatest thing since Pop Warner. His superlatives, no doubt, were thrown back at the Jets at the bargaining table.
Monday's exchange was funny. Asked about Sunday's remark, Ryan said with a smile, "I don't know, I never said that."
Is Wilkerson the best defensive player in the league?
"I don't know, he's pretty good," Ryan said. "But, see, I'm not supposed to say that."
Is it because of Wilkerson's contract?
"Exactly," the coach said. "He's decent. He's got some positive stuff to him. I slipped that one out."
Eventually, Ryan aknowledged that Wilkerson is "a heck of a football player." Holding his tongue, he stopped short of comparing him to Reggie White. No matter what they say or don't say, the Jets will have to pay big bucks for Wilkerson, who has only one year remaining on his rookie contract. They almost certainly will try to get something done after the season.