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Potential Wilkerson Add Could Be Boon for Defense

Muhammad Wilkerson is in Green Bay. But you already knew that. 
But would his addition address Green Bay’s greatest need? The popular vote says pass rusher is the biggest need, though, by extension of this [questionable] metaphor, the Electoral College might decide another playmaker in the defensive backend is equally important. Nevertheless, the point upon which all of Packer faithful can rally around is this: Green Bay needs more difference makers. 
Look no further than Mike McCarthy’s comments on Day 1 of the combine. 
“We’ve spent pretty much our 12 years here really focusing on improving from within,” McCarthy said. “But we need outside resources. We’ve determined that.”
The Packers’ pursuit of Muhammad Wilkerson is a step in the right direction. His greatest asset is as a pass rusher. 
This writer believes that Wilkerson would have been a Packer to begin with had he slid two more picks to Green Bay, picking last in the first round coming off a Super Bowl win, but instead he went to the Jets at selection No. 30 in the 2011 draft. At his best, he’s an ultra-disruptive force and was a mainstay of the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine defenses that shined (while being stifled by putrid offenses led by Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.) 
According to Pro Football Reference, using their Approximate Value (AV) formula, Wilkerson was the Jets’ most valued player in 2012, ’13 and ’15. (Dissect the formula on your own time.) The point is, surrounded by the likes of Darrell Revis, Sheldon Richardson, Antonio Cromartie and Nick Mangold—to name a few—it was Wilkerson’s production that often stood out the most. 
Few 300-pounders influenced the interior pass rush like Wilkerson, whose 10.5 sacks in 2013 and 12 sacks in ’15 represent exemplary production. For comparison, arguably the best football player in the league—regardless of position—has posted 9, 11, 8 and 11 sacks in his first four seasons, respectively. No—Wilkerson isn’t Aaron Donald. But it’s incredibly rare for defensive tackles to push toward 10 sacks in a season, and Wilkerson's done it twice. 
The flyers on Wilkerson are understandable, though. He hasn’t been his dominant self since that 2015 season, the same one that earned him a five-year, $86 million contract with $37 million guaranteed. Since then he’s missed meetings and his effort has been a source of concern. 
All fair. All reasonable. And all the reason why the Packers are the perfect team to turn things around for him—at a likely discounted price. Also worth noting: Wilkerson’s career with the Jets produced just a single winning season, a 10-6 mark in 2015, and it still wasn’t good enough for a playoff berth. That’s right. Wilkerson has never played a meaningful game in January. That makes him at mininum the 10,000th player to take plays off after cashing in on a bad team. 
Now he has the chance to join a Super Bowl contender and reunite with Pettine, his former defensive coordinator. And that he has the chance to play with standout Mike Daniels and rising star Kenny Clark should only sweeten the deal. Green Bay's new front line with Wilkerson should make Green Bay fans’ teeth sweat. The preoccupation with edge rusher belies the fact that the best kind of pressure comes from the interior, and that double teams there make life much easier for the rushers on the outside. 
Wilkerson’s [hopeful] addition opens up all sorts of possibilities for the Packers. It allows for a truer best-player-available approach to pick No. 14, which is in the team’s best interest considering their need is difference makers above any specific position. 
If the pick ends up being a pass rusher, ala Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport, all the better for the Packers’ pass rush. If it’s a lockdown corner, playmaking safety, jack-of-all-trades inside backer or an offensive lineman, that works, too.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Duke Divine's picture

He would be a very nice addition.

TheVOR's picture

So this is going to be very interesting. We have 15.4M in cap space. About 8M+ goes to the rookie pool. The more I read about this guy, the more I'm leaning towards "He Would Have to be SUPER CHEAP" to really even consider it. It's easy to sit back and make the case for signing the guy, but as I stated in the last article you guys did on him, it's not like we actually have any cap! 15.4M - 8M+ for the rookie pool, and oh ya, an Aaron Rodgers extension pending! It's not hard to realize that we actually don't have any cap space as we sit. UFA starts next week. What we're not seeing is GB having any discussions about contract renegotiation with CMIII, Cobb, Nelson, etc.. Furthermore, the Packers seemingly indicating they're interest in being a UFA player this off-season, and them not really wanting to release players to do so, is in complete conflict with the cap. I hate to sound like a broken record, but you can't play in UFA without available cap! We don't have any! The numbers don't add up to the propaganda coming out of 1265.. My 2..

Razer's picture

I agree that it will be hard to make much headway under the current cap tightness. We also need to address TE (Richard Rodgers) and potentially some depth in the secondary. Unless there is a fair amount of contract restructuring or salary cutting, there isn't much wiggle room in FA.

leehouse's picture

A couple corrections, the rookie pool is 9 million, but the effective cap space hit is closer to 5.5-6 million, because each draft pick will displace a bottom roster player making ~480k. So that leaves us 9-10 million in cap space to work with after the draft is accounted for.

Rodgers extension will likely open up cap space rather than cost us cap space this year(worst case scenario it remains where it is for this year). This makes sense because the increasing cap makes it worthwhile to push the cap hits down the road to an extent.

The same can be said about an extension for Clay, Randall, or Jordy if they go that route, but they can also ask guys to take pay cuts, or cut them outright. To be active in free agency things will definitely need to be done about at least 2 of those three in my opinion, but the Packers have options to work with to do some modest moves in Free Agency, though they'll never be huge spenders, and likely want to avoid bidding wars but picking up Wilkerson if he is inexpensive still leaves us able to pick up some guys late in free agency.

Ds300916's picture

Sounds like a potential Marty B situation. Could be a great addition if we are winning and in the thick of the playoff race, keeping him engaged and motivated. Or, could be a disaster if we fall out of the playoff picture and he becomes disengaged.

But (and not that MM or BG cares about my opinion) I'm on board with taking the risk, I'd love to see our defense approach the top half of the league.

GB Jacker's picture

If we're not in the playoff picture then it's not the end of the world if he becomes disengaged though. Marty B was bizarre - only interested in getting a ring clearly willing to sabotage his contract to get a shot. You have to keep rolling the dice though.

Ds300916's picture

That is very true. I think having Pettine gives me a lot more hope in this potential situation since Wilks' best years were with him as the d-coordinator. Perhaps he'll be motivated to have a good year and get paid next year.

GB Jacker's picture

This is the kind of move you just gotta make if you want to be aggressive. Potential pro-bowl player if his heads right. We have the coach who got the best outta him. I don't think it'll be expensive and I think he wants to play for a contender.

D-Line depth is so crucial in the NFL. Daniels, Clark, Lowry, Wilkerson, Adams is a great start.

If we can find an above average CB on the cheap, a half decent TE and hit on a couple of draft picks we'll be in good shape.

Minniman's picture

I've commented previously, sign Mo AND draft Vita Vea in the first.

These 2 additions would make not 1 but 2 GREAT D-Lines.

In rotation they would be relentless, and only elite O-lines could cope.... for a while..... but not without double-teaming at least 1 of the D-line.

By virtue of the numbers required to stop pocket crush this would put the Packers at an 8 on 5 or 8 on 6 advantage with remaining players.

That would potentially put CM3 and NP against tight-ends and D-backs as well as allowing the Packers to double team an opponents 2 top receivers..... Heck I even think that Kyler Fackrell could create pressure with this help!

In closing, an elite plus plus D-line (which is achievable here) could reduce the impact and importance on a suspect pass rush and secondary this year, giving the Packers time to rebuild the EDGE and work out if all those young but previous high picks in the secondary pan out.

Minniman's picture

I'd also be aggressive and trade UP in the draft looking to get only 5 or 6 draftees from the 12 picks that they have. Packers have had too many whiffs in recent years to be speculative on low rounders and UDFA's.

A new offensive receiving weapon is probably going to be as important as EDGE this time around.

CheesyTex's picture

Great thoughts. Thanks.

Nick Perry's picture

PLEASE....Get this deal done!!!

GB Jacker's picture

Everything is in GBs favour - have to get it done!

Bearmeat's picture

And how are they going to afford him? They don't have the cap room. Between the rookie cap pool and ARod's expected deal, they don't have any room. Unless they cut/renegotiate/extend some or all of Nelson, Cobb, Matthews or Bulaga.

flackcatcher's picture

Yup. This is what it's come to. Not about the players ability or fit into the team. But how much he is going to cost. Packers not the only team with this problem, every team has this to some extent. Player and owners should see this as a shot across the bow, and understand they have a very serious problem brewing and deal with it now.

GB Jacker's picture


Handsback's picture

If Wilkerson becomes a Packer, teams will be worrying about him verses Daniels or Clark. The three of them will make a pretty formidable front line.

zoellner25's picture

If they sign Mo Wilkerson, say goodbye to either Jordy or Cobb

stockholder's picture

Your Right! And Mathews could be in the mix. So do we give up 3 for 1. Not in dreams. His numbers also cast doubt. Draft Options are the answer to sign A-Rod and keep FACE. Love to have him. Can't afford him.

4zone's picture

More than likely Jordy due to his age.

4zone's picture

Unless we can extend Jordy, Cobb AND Matthews a couple years each and drop their per/year average down to the 7 Mill range. Would open up another 10 Mil + on our Cap.

dobber's picture

It's all about how they structure the deal.

RCPackerFan's picture

I really like the fit with Wilkerson in Green Bay. Its almost a perfect fit really.
He knows Pettine's scheme, Pettine knows how to get the most out of him.

Also with Daniels and Clark, he could come in and create one of the best DL's in the league. Add in Lowry and Adams who we still don't know what we have in, this definitely will be a strong unit.

Having a stout and really good DL will really allow the ILB's and OLB's to be their best. Allows them more opportunities to run free and make plays.

I am all for signing Wilkerson as long as the price is right!

Tundraboy's picture

Let's hope it's more than a dog and pony show for a change.

Bure9620's picture

Even if Wilkerson does not put up an enormous stat line, he would in many cases draw a double team. That leaves Daniels and Clark in favorable matchups and the ability for the rush to get home from the EDGE with CMIII or Perry or Reggie G! (My breakout player). Also, the inside backers would be able to roam freely to the ball. You cant double team everyone!

Razer's picture

I am not sure about Wilkerson versus any other D-line options. What I do like and hope we pursue is a return to using 3 or 4 linemen as our predominant front. Capers using one or 2 down linemen never yielded the kind of pressure that we needed. The hope that our linebackers would get to the QB was a diminishing scenario. It amounted to playing a perpetual 'prevent' defense.

I like the way Philly rotates D-linemen and keeps the pressure turned up. Anyway, I hope that we get some D-line studs, either through FA or the draft. I kind of like this Vita Vea mountain. Overall we need two quality guys to make it happen up front.

Minniman's picture

I agree with you Razer, the relentless D line pressure by being able to rotate high caliber players commands respect from O-line, tests its depth and wears it down

I couldn't find the link, but there was an article on Bleacher Report a couple of years ago when both the Packers and Boys had high-end O-lines.

It basically stated the obvious that an intact expansive pocket made the quarter back nigh on impossible to defend against - but a small or collapsing one made otherwise great quarterbacks average.

Its common-sense.......right Dom?

scullyitsme's picture

Didn’t I read somewhere that next year we will be almost 93 million under the cap after a few expiring contracts that we probably won’t be resigning anyway? I’m not a proponent usually of buy now, pay later, but in this case it makes a lot of sense. It should give us a lot more flexibility this year than everyone seems to think.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

I still would like to add a veteran wide receiver.

With my first round pick I would probably take Marcus Davenport and my second round pick would be a tight end either from South Carolina , Penn State or Wisconsin

HankScorpio's picture

The Packers sure could use a TE, no doubt there.

Outside of Wisconsin, I don't watch much college football. So I don't really have much of a basis to compare Troy Fumigalli to others. But I didn't see anything special from Fumigalli. I don't think he's going to match the NFL career of, say, Owen Daniels.

I wish him well. But I'm not hot for him to be a Packer.

stockholder's picture

Not me. They kept Adams. Their stuck. Davenport did not have good practices at the senior Bowl. The guy is not NFL ready. (work) The TE from Penn State is at the top of many boards because of the combine.

Lare's picture

According to reports, Wilkerson is leaving Green Bay without a contract to visit other teams.

Fordham Ram's picture

I'm hoping Gutekunst starts off his reign as GM like Ron Wolf by signing his version of Reggie White. It worked then it could work now.

HankScorpio's picture

There are much better ways to spend cap resources than on a guy that packed it in after his last payday. This guy has Cletidus Hunt written all over him. I cannot fathom why so many people are so hot to sign him.

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