The New York Jets have released seven-year veteran defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Wilkerson still had three years, $50 million remaining on a five-year, $86 million contract with the Jets he signed prior to the 2016 season, but his inconsistencies on the field and problems with the New York media has cut his time in green short.
Taken 30th overall by the Jets in 2011, Wilkerson looked as though he would become one of the better defensive ends in franchise history after a big 2013 season in which he racked up 10.5 sacks, 1.5 more than he had in his first two professional seasons.
While his production dipped down to just six quarterback takedowns in 2014, Wilkerson put together his finest season the following year with 12 sacks and three forced fumbles. That season most likely played a large factor in the Jets offering Wilkerson such a large contract.
The 28-year-old never came close to reproducing that kind of production again as he combined for just seven sacks over the 27 games he played during the past two seasons.
Wilkerson did have to deal with an ankle injury that required surgery after signing that contract, which might have played a part in his dip in production. However, he made some enemies in the process by blaming the Jets training staff for botching his recovery as the ankle bothered him for most of the season.
He was benched three times in the past three seasons for tardiness and his relationship with the New York media was best represented by his display after being benched for the first quarter of the team’s Week 13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs last season.
“If you ain’t got no Denver questions [the Jets were playing the Broncos in Week 14], you don’t got to ask me anything,” he said curtly (h/t New York Post).
Cutting Wilkerson ensured that the $16.75 million he was owed did not become guaranteed ahead of the 2018 season.
In seven years with the Jets, Wilkerson amassed 44.5 sacks, sixth in franchise history, and 405 total tackles.