Almost right after Packers GM Brian Gutekunst stepped down from the podium Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that Muhammad Wilkerson would be signing with the Green Bay Packers. Packers fans around the world longed-for being apart of the chaos that is NFL free agency and that is exactly what they got. They may have lost a fan favorite in wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but that decision was well compensated with the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham. This was the third roster move Gutekunst has made thus far and more are yet to come. The Packers still need to make a decision on safety Morgan Burnett and the secondary still needs a corner that will be ready to contribute right away. Sources have confirmed that Wilkerson’s one year deal is worth $5 million dollars plus $3 million in incentives. The Packers will be getting a motivated defensive end that will be reunited with former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
The price and upside of this signing had to be a no-brainer for Green Bay. The former pro-bowl defensive end fielded visits from the Saints, Chiefs, and Redskins before choosing the Packers. It is possible Wilkerson chose Green Bay at a discount considering he wanted to play for a contender and the deal reunited him with the coordinator that drafted him.
Wilkerson left the Jets on bad terms after spending seven years as an every down starter. He signed a five-year, $86 million dollar contract with the team back in 2016.
If the Packers can get Wilkerson at his 2012-2015 level, the NFC North better watch out! pic.twitter.com/G5SA3ojkY8
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 14, 2018
Some of his coaches questioned whether the 28-year-old still had a desire to play. He was suspended for a quarter during a week 13 game vs the Chiefs after head coach Todd Bowles reported Wilkerson had missed or been late to as many as five team meetings.
Although he sat out an entire quarter, Wilkerson totaled six tackles and an assisted sack. The next week against Denver, Wilkerson recorded six tackles and a solo sack.
Shoulder issues sidelined Wilkerson for the final three games, however it is possible the Jets wanted to keep him relatively healthy so releasing him would remain a viable option. If he remained hurt the Jets would have been unable to cut him unless they were willing to a take costly hit to their cap. The Jets saved $11 million dollars by letting Wilkerson walk in February.
The familiarity of Mike Pettine and a chance to remake his career allowed Brian Gutekunst to grab Wilkerson at a great price. If he plays well then the Packers may have gotten the steal of free agency. If his off the field issues continue, 2018 might be his only year spent in Green Bay.
PSA: Don’t ask a tight end to block Mo Wilkerson. Denver’s Jeff Heuerman gets abused here. pic.twitter.com/IHKK8YwCC4
— Brandon Carwile (@PackerScribe) March 14, 2018
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.