FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Calling it a “coach’s decision,” Todd Bowles announced Friday that defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will not travel with the Jets to New Orleans for Sunday’s game against the Saints.
Bowles said the decision was not injury-related. Wilkerson arrived late to the Jets’ facility Friday, according to multiple reports.
It’s the latest sign of trouble between Gang Green and the underachieving player.
Bowles benched Wilkerson for most of the first quarter of the Jets’ Dec. 3 game against the Kansas City Chiefs for being late to a team meeting. According to an NJ.com source, Wilkerson has regularly showed up late to morning meetings this season and missed some altogether.
Last season, Wilkerson was benched for the first quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins, also for being late to team meetings. The day before another game, he reportedly missed a walk-through and a defensive meeting, where a birthday party for him was planned.
Meanwhile, his production on the field has dropped off considerably. In 2015, the year before he signed a five-year, $86 million contract, Wilkerson, a first-round draft pick in 2011, had 12 sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl. But in the two seasons since, he has a total of eight sacks — just 3 1/2 this year.
Last week, the Daily News reported, citing team insiders, that the Jets are expected to part ways with Wilkerson after this season.
The most affordable way for the Jets to get out of Wilkerson’s contract is to release him before his 2018 salary becomes guaranteed in March and designate him a post-June 1 cut. They would have to eat $3 million in dead salary-cap money, but free up $17 million, according to OverTheCap.com.