Mo Wilkerson could be key to Jets' quest for franchise-caliber quarterback

The Jets need to move up from the draft's No. 20 pick if they want a shot at QBs Jared Goff, left, or Carson Wentz. USA TODAY Sports, AP Photo

A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Trade-up possibility: The Jets are approaching the NFL draft as if they're outside a nightclub with a VIP card, flashing it in an attempt to jump the line and get into the big room. There's a name on the card: Muhammad Wilkerson.

Wilkerson is their entree into the top 10, the bargaining chip that could allow them to improve their current position, 20th. Because of their surplus at defensive end, the Jets see Wilkerson as a movable asset. They see a trade as a cap-clearing, need-filling measure, and that's why they're exploring potential trade-up scenarios.

In my opinion, the only way a Wilkerson trade makes sense is if he brings back a quarterback, Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. In that case, you could justify dealing your best defensive player, who still is only 26 years old. Otherwise, it's just a glorified fire sale unless they get blown away by an offer.

If the Jets walk away with one of this class' top two quarterbacks, they will have successfully used Wilkerson to address a decades-old issue: The franchise-quarterback void.

The wild card is Paxton Lynch, widely regarded as the No. 3 quarterback. The Jets are showing interest -- a staffer was buzzing about his arm strength at his wind-swept pro day -- but they might not have to trade up for him because he could slip to 20. Lynch is considered less NFL-ready than Goff and Wentz, so I'm not sure if he'd be worth a trade that includes Wilkerson.

Just because the Jets are motivated, there's no guarantee a trade will happen. The unsigned Wilkerson has the franchise tag, which means it takes three to tango. Both the Jets and Wilkerson have to find a team willing to meet his contractual demands and surrender compensation to the Jets. Easier said than executed.

2. Anticipating a Mo-show: Wilkerson isn't expected to show up Monday for the start of the offseason program, which is voluntary. First of all, he's still rehabbing his surgically repaired broken leg. He also hasn't signed his franchise tender, so there's no injury protection. What if he throws out his back while lifting weights? Once he signs the tender, his $15.7 million becomes guaranteed. But he's not likely to sign it anytime soon.

3. Unhappily ever after? D'Brickashaw Ferguson represents a rarity in sports, an athlete who spent his entire career with one team -- his hometown team. He grew up on Long Island, got drafted in the first round and walked away 10 years later with more money than he ever could've imagined. Wilkerson, a Jersey a kid, has a chance to do the same thing, but does anybody actually believe it'll happen? Didn't think so.

4. Bah, humbug: The Jets have a right to be cranky about their brutal stretch in December -- three games in 13 days, including a trip to San Francisco for the middle one. But there's another AFC East team facing a similar plight -- the New England Patriots -- and the Jets could be the beneficiary.

The Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 12, travel to the Denver Broncos on the 18th and host the Jets on the 24th. Three games, 13 days. The Patriots could be dragging in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Christmas Eve, while the Jets should be relatively refreshed after a full week following a home game. Maybe that will help them win there for the first time since the 2010 playoffs.

5. No love around the Nation: While on the subject of the schedule, every ESPN NFL Nation reporter made game-by-game predictions for the team he or she covers. For instance, I picked the Jets to finish 8-8. My colleagues weren't as kind. Looking through their game predictions, the Jets amassed only four wins -- a 4-12 projection. Ouch! Their only victories came against the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Patriots. In most cases, the Jets' unsettled quarterback situation was cited as the primary reason for, well, stinking.

6. Colon still undecided: Free-agent guard Willie Colon, who attended Ferguson's dignified farewell at One Jets Drive, joked he'll probably have his retirement announcement at a Hooters restaurant. When might that be? Colon, who turned 33 on April 9, said his future remains "up in the air." His heart is telling him to play, but his body -- particularly his balky right knee, which landed him on injured reserve after just six games in 2015 -- might be sending a different message.

"I’m getting in shape, trying to figure it out," he said. "If my knee doesn’t respond, I’m just going to hang it up. Right now, it’s about me just getting in the best shape I can and see how it goes."

Colon said he'd consider playing elsewhere.

7. Brick & LeBron: Three days ago, Ferguson explained his decision. Six years ago, he was overshadowed by The Decision.

Ferguson signed his last big contract (six years, $60 million) on July 8, 2010. That night, the nation was transfixed by LeBron James, who announced on live TV that he was taking his talents to South Beach. As Ferguson and his agent, Brad Blank, waited at the Jets' facility to sign the paperwork, the building was preoccupied with the LeBron news, with staffers glued to their TVs. On Thursday, Ferguson was the focal point of the entire organization, which gave him a proper sendoff.

8. The quiet man: Ferguson didn't create any ripples in his 10-year career, learning as a rookie that it wasn't considered cool to create any distractions. In 2006, a bare-chested Ferguson was pictured in a newspaper talking to reporters, and the next day he was admonished by then-coach Eric Mangini, who put the photo on the big screen in the team meeting. It was a lesson learned. Ferguson said he was always tight-lipped because he never wanted to create any problems in the locker room.

He was the same way on the field, rarely drawing attention to himself. In 2013, he was fined for punching a New England player during a huge scuffle. Other than that outburst, he was relatively calm. I asked Nick Mangold if he could recall a fiery Brick moment, and he said: "It was 2007, training camp at Hofstra, one-on-one pass pro. I don’t know how it happened, but him and Shaun Ellis got into it. Brick was yelling and it looked like they were going to exchange blows. Everyone was saying, ‘Whoa, who’s this guy?’ I haven’t seen that guy since."

9. Cornerstones: The Jets have been in existence for 53 seasons, and they've played 24 of those with only two left tackles -- Winston Hill (1963-1976) and Ferguson (2006-2015). To say they've been fortunate at that position would be an understatement.

10. Cap update: The Jets have $3.88 million in cap room, according to NFLPA records. It's enough to sign their six draft picks.