The New York Jets have a slightly unhappy player in Muhammad Wilkerson. The defensive lineman was given the franchise tag, and thus he is likely to be stuck playing on a one-year deal in New Jersey. There has been talk of a potential trade, with the San Francisco 49ers mentioned as one possible destination. With the 2016 NFL Draft fast approaching however, it seems unlikely that a deal gets done.
Update on #Jets DL Mo Wilkerson: Team fielded calls, but little action. Trade viewed as unlikely. NYJ is content to have a very good player— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 27, 2016
The biggest issue in a Wilkerson trade is the contract. He has not signed his franchise tender, and the team cannot trade him until he signs it. He will sign it eventually to get paid, but he won't sign it before then for a trade that does not include a new contract.
If that is in fact the case, that makes getting a deal done in a short time-frame pretty difficult. The Jets reportedly want to move up in the first round, and have floated Wilkerson as a potential piece in any such deal. A deal could be reached before the draft, but if we get to draft day and nothing is done, it seems difficult to finalize anything in a fairly tight window of opportunity. Maybe something crazy happens, and it gets done, but I'm not holding my breath.
People have suggested the 49ers deal their 7th to the Jets for Wilkerson and the 20th overall pick. That would certainly infuse the team with serious talent. The downside is blowing up the salary structure to get Wilkerson. The upside is he is a proven talent unlike anything they would find in the draft. DeForest Buckner is a fascinating prospect, but until he does it on a consistent basis in the NFL, he's still just a prospect.
For now, I don't see the 49ers making any deal for Wilkerson, and I don't see the Jets making any deal for him with anybody else. The 49ers like the draft over free agency because the former is wholesale pricing, while the latter is retail pricing. They actually need to hit on their picks to get the value, but that's the team's philosophy. Wilkerson does not fit anywhere near that philosophy.