Coupled With Forte's Retirement, Gang Green More Than $91 Million Under 2018 Salary Cap

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Jets have released defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, ending the one-time Pro Bowl selection’s stint with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2011.

The team made the long-anticipated move on Wednesday, clearing $11 million in salary cap space. Wilkerson was due to make $16.75 million next season — which would have become fully guaranteed if he remained on New York’s roster by the third day of the league’s new year in March.

Muhammad Wilkerson

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson looks toward the sideline for a play call in against the Browns on Oct. 8, 2017. at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

It became increasingly clearer late in the season that the 28-year-old Wilkerson’s time with the Jets was coming to an end. He was benched at New Orleans on Dec. 17 for being late to a team meeting. Wilkerson then sat out the final two games for what Todd Bowles called a “coach’s decision.” He had just eight sacks in his past 28 games.

The release of Wilkerson, along with the retirement of veteran running back Matt Forte, puts the Jets roughly $91 million below the 2018 salary cap, according to overthecap.com. According to several reports they will pursue veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins, should he reach free agency.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)