The Jets had to cut Wilkerson before March 16 or else his $16.75 million salary for 2018 would have become fully guaranteed.
Wilkerson, 28, was benched for the final three games of last season, ostensibly because he was late for a meeting on Dec. 15 — the fourth time since 2015 he was disciplined for tardiness.
The Jets decided to keep him off the field for the remainder of the season because they were concerned about a potential injury, which could have resulted in the team being on the hook for his 2018 salary. By then, the organization had decided Wilkerson’s fate.
“It was a business decision; it wasn’t disciplinary at all,” coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday at the scouting combine. “It was good for both parties.
“I’m disappointed for the team; I’m disappointed for him. Obviously it didn’t work out. I have a lot of love for Mo. I still think he’s got a lot of football ahead of him.”
Wilkerson was due to count $20 million on the cap, the league’s fourth-highest cap charge for a non-quarterback. By cutting him, the Jets will save $11 million.
The move marks the culmination of a significant fall for Wilkerson, a 2011 first-round pick who once appeared to be on the verge of stardom.
Wilkerson peaked in 2015, when he recorded a career-high 12 sacks and was named to his first Pro Bowl. In 2016, he was rewarded with a five-year, $86 million contract that included $37 million fully guaranteed at signing. He was the highest-paid player on the team in 2017, making $15 million in cash earnings.
His decline coincided with the new contract. In 28 games over the past two seasons, Wilkerson produced eight sacks. Privately, team officials questioned whether he still had a passion for the game.
In 2015, the Jets had one of the best defensive lines in the league, but they lost Damon Harrison in free agency and traded Sheldon Richardson. Now Wilkerson is gone, too. The only holdover is Leonard Williams, who the Jets selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Green Bay Packers activate Tramon Williams, who could become first to play for two NFL teams in a postseason
Williams, who was acquired by the Packers and put on their practice squad after he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, could become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams in the same postseason.
The 37-year-old Williams had three tackles in the Ravens’ 17-3 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills last week.
Williams previously played for the Packers from 2007-14 and 2018-19, and he played a key role in the team’s run to Super Bowl 45 with interceptions in playoff games vs. Philadelphia and Atlanta.
“It’s special,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the team’s decision to sign Williams this week. “He’s one of those teammates you just love playing with over the years. He’s such a professional. The way he takes care of himself, he looks amazing. He looks like he could go out and play 70 plays for us. I’m not sure if he’s going to or not, I hope he does, because he’s still so talented. But he’s one of those special guys, special personalities.”
“… You think about the 2010 run — he ended a game in Philly; (he) basically gave us a huge jolt in the divisional round (against Atlanta) with his pick-6. Still one of my favorite moments in all the moments in that, is watching him pick that ball off and run down the sidelines with Nick Collins to put us up 14 going into half. So, it’s fun. I wish we did this every year.”
Green Bay may need some extra depth in the secondary due to the uncertain status of starting cornerback Kevin King, who didn’t practice Friday because of a back injury and is listed as questionable.
The Packers also elevated defensive lineman Brian Price and cornerback KeiVarae Russell from the practice squad to the active roster for game day. In other moves, they signed punter Ryan Winslow to the practice squad and released running back Dexter Williams from the practice squad.
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kansas City Chiefs CB Bashaud Breeland clears concussion protocol
Breeland was knocked out of last week’s divisional round win over the Cleveland Browns in the second half and entered the concussion protocol. He practiced on a limited basis all week.
He started 11 games during the regular season and in the win over the Browns after missing the first four contests because of an NFL suspension for a violation of the substance abuse policy.
Breeland had two interceptions during the 2020 regular season as well as an interception in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Miami Dolphins continue to build around Tua Tagovailoa by hiring QB coach Charlie Frye
DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins continued their offseason pursuit to build around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as they hired Central Michigan offensive coordinator Charlie Frye as their new QB coach Saturday.
Frye was a key assistant working with Tagovailoa during the Elite 11 high school QB camp that helped the young QB burst onto the national scene. In a nod to how valuable the experience was to him, Tagovailoa later hired Elite 11 head coach Trent Dilfer as his personal coach during his NFL pre-draft process.
Frye will replace quarterbacks coach Robby Brown, who is out despite having time left on his contract. Brown becomes the third known offensive assistant to leave, joining Chan Gailey, who resigned as offensive coordinator earlier this month, and offensive line coach Steve Marshall, who also is out despite having time left on his contract.
Brown and Marshall had both been hired by the Dolphins after Gailey had vouched for them.
Tight end coach George Godsey took over quarterback coach responsibilities in the second half of the season — an early sign that the Dolphins were ready to make a change at the position.
Miami continues to build around Tagovailoa, who is coming off an uneven rookie season but has received strong public support from coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier in recent weeks amid speculation and criticism.
The Frye move is another example of the team trying to put Tagovailoa in a comfortable situation entering Year 2.
Frye, 39, spent five years as a NFL quarterback, mostly notably with the Cleveland Browns. He’s spent the last two seasons as Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator and QB coach.
The Dolphins, who are coaching the Senior Bowl this week, have yet to officially name an offensive coordinator and may not make a hire until after they return from Mobile, Alabama.
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