Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has shown that he’s always interested in improving his offensive and defensive lines.
But is McKenzie interested in shelling out big bucks for Jets’ Pro Bowl defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson?
A recent report by national NFL writer Jason La Canfora suggested that McKenzie would be smart to go after Wilkerson.
Wilkerson, at just 26, is young and still on the rise. But he’s coming off surgery for a broken leg and just received the franchise tag from the Jets, who reportedly are trying to work out a long-term deal with him. The franchise-tag designation is expected to pay Wilkerson about $15.7 million in 2016.
But if the Jets and Wilkerson can’t reach a longer deal, Darryl Slater, who covers the Jets for NJ.com, believes the team could trade him. Slater reported Wilkerson received the non-exclusive tag, so he can still negotiate with other teams. The Jets would have the right to match any offer, however. And, if Wilkerson signs elsewhere, “the Jets would get two first-round draft picks from that organization – a high price to pay for Wilkerson’s services.”
Though Wilkerson is talented – he had a career-high 12 sacks in 2015 – and the Raiders still have money under the salary cap to make more moves, that seems like much too high a price for the Raiders to pay.
Since taking over the Raiders operations, McKenzie has used his draft picks to rebuild the roster. He hasn’t traded them away for quick fixes. It’s hard to imagine McKenzie trading away two of those valuable first-rounders, even if Wilkerson could be a force on the defensive front.
La Canfora argues that Wilkerson “would bring stability and bite to that (Raiders) defense, a piece they could count on for years to come. It would be the most impactful move of any this offseason, I believe.”
From a talent standpoint, that may be true. Adding Wilkerson to a front seven that includes Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Dan Williams, Justin Ellis and Mario Edwards Jr. (if he’s healthy for 2016) would be tremendous.
But McKenzie has shown that he looks to the future as much as the present. Parting with two first-round picks, as well as a pile of money, would seem to be too high a price to pay.
As Levi Damien of SB Nation wrote, "The whole idea seems a bit far-fetched." But, when a talent such as Wilkerson is available, he added, it must be "tempting" for McKenzie to at least dream about.