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Mehta's Jets Mailbag: Mo Wilkerson’s desire to be traded

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The Jets haven't been able to find any takers for Muhammad Wilkerson.Al Bello/Getty Images

The Jets haven’t been able to find any takers for Muhammad Wilkerson.

The April Fool’s Eve edition of the Jets mailbag is no joke. We delve into Mo Wilkerson’s desperate attempt to be traded, the fish-or-cut-bait deadline on Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Geno Coaster, why Bryce Petty is not an option right now and more.

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I don’t care how great your RB is, you need a great offensive line to win in the NFL. I suspect the Jets will address the top of the draft with OL. You agree? – Rich @SouthernJetNC

It’s a stone-cold lead-pipe lock that the Jets will address offensive line at some point during the premium rounds (Rounds 1-3). I’d even go as far to say that they will draft multiple offensive linemen with their six picks.

The Jets’ brain trust is fully aware that the line needs an injection of youth and talent. There’s no guarantee that tackles D’Brickashaw Ferguson or Breno Giacomini will be on the roster by the end of the draft. If the Jets find a tackle early in the draft (like Michigan State’s Jack Conklin), the team could easily part ways with Ferguson or Giacomini (to clear some cap space to actually sign their rookies).

Mike Maccagnan is supposedly a scouting guru when it comes to guys in the trenches. He might unearth a gem at tackle or guard in the mid-late rounds too. The Jets need a right guard, if you hadn’t heard.

Maccagnan needs to replenish this line in a hurry… and he knows it.


If the Jets are prepared to let Mo Wilkerson walk/trade him, when will they begin extension talks with Sheldon Richardson? – Vin Monte @V_Monte

As I’ve maintained for the better part of a year, the Jets would love to trade Wilkerson for a first-round pick, but they haven’t been able to find any takers yet willing to dole out suitable draft-pick compensation and pay Wilkerson the $ 40+ million in guarantees that he desires in a long-term deal.

The Wilkerson camp has been pushing every button with the hope that the Jets can find a trade partner. Wilkerson’s periodic health updates from his leg rehab on social media are strategic advertisements to the rest of the league. Not surprisingly, he has announced that he’s ahead of schedule.

Wilkerson and his agent are in full-fledged get-me-the-heck-out-of-here mode not because the player doesn’t enjoy playing for the team that drafted him. The bottom-line truth right now is that Wilkerson has come to realization that the Jets aren’t going to pay him what he believes he’s worth, so he’s ready to move on to an organization willing to pony up the cash. You can’t blame him. If I were in his position, I’d want out too.


The Jets, after all, have made it clear through their actions that they simply don’t value Wilkerson on the same level. The organization believes that Sheldon Richardson, who is awaiting whether he’ll be suspended for his off-field transgression last year, is the more valuable piece to the puzzle. That belief is shared by virtually every NFL talent evaluator (GMs, scouts, etc), who I’ve spoken to in the past year.

Wilkerson is a quality player, for sure, but Richardson is the more versatile and athletic one. So, the notion that Wilkerson is the best defensive player on the roster is comical. He’s not. It’s Richardson.

The Jets are not in a rush to give Richardson an extension. They’d like to make sure that he stays on the straight and narrow path this season before making their next move.

The truth is that the Jets would love to sign Wilkerson at their price, but that won’t happen unless Wilkerson significantly lowers his valuation of himself…. and that’s not happening.


The Jets want to get Ryan Fitzpatrick's deal done by the time off-season workouts begin mid April.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The Jets want to get Ryan Fitzpatrick’s deal done by the time off-season workouts begin mid April.

What is cutoff date to make decision on Fitzpatrick? Alex Best @29Murdock

Todd Bowles recently admitted that the Jets are “not close” to reaching the organization’s internal deadline to make a decision on whether to wait on Fitzpatrick or move in a different direction. The first phase of the Jets’ voluntary off-season workout program begins on April 18. They’d ideally love to have Fitzpatrick back in the building at the time, but the reality is that the first two-week portion of the offseason program is little more than strength and conditioning. Coaches will get their hands on players for individual on-field work around the beginning of May.

You don’t technically need Fitzpatrick, who won’t be skipping any of the voluntary work if he were signed, by the way, at that time, but it’d be nice to have your offensive leader in the fold by then, don’t you think?

I suppose the Jets could stretch out this waiting game for an additional three weeks before the final phase of the voluntary off-season program around the third week of May, but there’s no way they should wait any longer. Phase Three includes Organized Team Activities (7 on 7 drills and 11 on 11 drills). The Jets must make a decision in time for that or… (I’ll hold off on any critical remarks until that time… because I’d like to think that the organization and Fitzpatrick would be smart enough to resolve their differences in time for this to be a non-issue).


Bryce Petty is a project and simply not ready to compete for the the starting QB job.RICH SCHULTZ/AP

Bryce Petty is a project and simply not ready to compete for the the starting QB job.

If Petty isn’t ready to step up and compete for starting QB why was he even selected? – @JackWarner16

Patience, grasshopper. There’s no pressure to accelerate Petty’s development. He was a fourth-round pick for Pete’s sake.

The Jets were encouraged by Petty’s growth in some areas, but he remains a mystery in large part because he hasn’t played in a real game. Bowles recently mentioned that he’d like Petty to improve his feet in the pocket when under duress. Petty’s mind was racing a mile a minute in training camp due to the significant jump from Baylor’s offense to a pro-style scheme. Facing one of the better defenses in the league further complicated matters.

Bowles also mentioned that he wants Petty to improve finding his check-down options when his primary reads are covered. It’ll be an important second season for Petty to show his coaches that he can improve his pocket presence and decision-making.

He’s simply not ready yet to compete for the starting job.


Is Geno getting a raw deal on past performance seeing how he is young and Jets knew it would be years before he was ready? – Mike Manico @Vaedur

It’s an interesting and fair question, Mike. On the one hand, I’ve witnessed the Geno Coaster up close for two seasons to believe that he’s likely best suited to be a backup quarterback. On the other hand, he has never actually had the opportunity to show what he can do with two legitimate wide receivers at his disposal like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

Let’s not forget that Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles’ plan last year at this time was to start Smith. Fitzpatrick was nothing more than an insurance policy. There was no plan to have a quarterback competition.

Smith’s altercation with IK Enemkpali ultimately changed the course of the young quarterback’s season – and maybe his career.


Smith has terrific physical skills. Frankly, he’s more physically gifted than Fitzpatrick. The difference between the two lies between the ears. Forget about the Harvard degree. I’m not talking about Fitzpatrick’s book smarts.

I’m talking about his football intelligence. His mental grasp of playing the position far exceeds Smith, who made plenty of poor decisions on the field in his two years as a starter.

Then, there’s the (lack of) leadership. Smith has always viewed himself as a leader, but that’s largely irrelevant. The pertinent question is this: Do his teammates view him as a leader?

The answer is no. Any suggestion otherwise is simply untrue.

I’ve never found Smith to be a bad guy in any sense. He can be engaging at times. I’ve had a bunch of good conversations with him through the years. I genuinely think that he wants to do the right thing and say the right things, but he’s playing in a crucible, where his every move, rightly or wrongly, is scrutinized.


Heck, he and I had one memorable exchange a couple years ago when he became agitated and irritated with my question. It’s hard to keep your cool with so much pressure on you. I get it, but the quarterback can’t show that he’s rattled. There’s nothing wrong with being ticked off and annoyed at all the criticism, but you can’t ever let them see you sweat.

Fitzpatrick is brilliant that way.

Smith has never galvanized his teammates. That’s not to say that he can’t grow into that role, but it will take time. He’s a mercurial guy.

The Jets view Smith as a quality backup… for now. And you know what? I think they’re right.

muhammad wilkerson ,
sheldon richardson ,
ryan fitzpatrick ,
bryce petty ,
mike maccagnan ,
geno smith ,
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