DE Muhammad Wilkerson Looking to Get Back To "Dominant" Level of Play

-- For someone on an incentive-based deal, the Green Bay Packers' newest defensive lineman knows he has a lot to prove with his new team.

Muhammad Wilkerson, signed by the Packers a day before the official start of free agency this month, is rejoined in Green Bay by his former defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine. Together, the duo hopes to rekindle the same flame they shared -- along with the rest of the New York Jets' defense -- in the early years of Wilkerson's career.

That's an obvious reason why the Packers seemed like the best fit for the former first-round pick. The familiarity, the chance of honing in on that same feeling of success and being able to mesh with an already-formidable defensive line.

"That was a key part in it, being that we were together in New York for a little bit," Wilkerson said of Pettine on a conference call with Packers.com on Thursday.

"Besides, he's just a great guy, and his resume speaks for itself. So that was one of the key parts to it of me coming to Green Bay."

Wilkerson did indeed take visits with other teams, but his path led him back to Green Bay to ensure that it was the right fit. His one-year, $5 million dollar "prove-it" deal ensured that he made the right decision.

"Green Bay was the best fit for me. I got a good vibe with the coaches and the staff and felt like that was the best place for me."

Wilkerson's presence is a chance for the Packers to shore up, not just their defensive line, but their pass rush as well. Formidable front pressure makes the jobs of even average cornerbacks that much easier, and it would seem that new G.M. Brian Gutekunst feels the same way, given the lack of urgency to address the cornerback position in free agency up until Thursday.

He joins the Packers looking for a fresh start after a somewhat tumultuous ending to his seven-year stint with the Jets. During the end of last season, Wilkerson was declared as a healthy scratch for the final three games due to his history of violating team rules, such as showing up late or missing the team's meetings. It wouldn't be long before his eventual release at the end of February.

It also wouldn't be long before the Packers struck a deal with him just two weeks later.

"At the end of the day, it's a business," Wilkerson said of his departure from the Jets. "Some things just don't work out as planned. I'm looking for a fresh start in Green Bay and looking forward to better things."

It might be hard for Wilkerson to get away with any acts of the sort with Mike Daniels opposite him on the defensive line. From a talent perspective, Wilkerson, Daniels, Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry has the potential of forming one of the more threatening defensive lines in the league.

All it would take is consistent play all around, including Wilkerson upping his production from his 3.5 sacks in 2017 -- his lowest since his 2011 rookie season (3.0). 

"I'm ready to get back to my dominant play. I know what type of player I'm capable of being, and I'm just ready to do it at a new place, a new organization and a new group of guys. I'm just really excited about the things to come this year." 

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (18)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

March 23, 2018 at 08:51 am

Excited to see our front seven in action this season. Which is great because it's been at least 5 years since I was excited about that group.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 23, 2018 at 08:52 am

isn't that the truth.

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GBPDAN1's picture

March 23, 2018 at 01:38 pm

" Wilkerson's presence is a chance for the Packers to shore up, not just their defensive line, but their pass rush as well. Formidable front pressure makes the jobs of even average cornerbacks that much easier"

We all agree that a strong pass rush is needed to help our secondary. This is why obtaining a quality CB in FA was I so important. Not only to shore up the position, but also so we could pick up a pass rusher with our first rd pick. Now I feel we need to go DB with our first pick and aside from Ward (who will be gone at 14), there's no guarantee that we get a rookie who can step right in and play like a quality starter.

Gut was willing to pay Fuller 14M a year, but wasn't willing to pay over 10m to bring in someone that, unlike Fuller, we actually had a chance to get. This to me is Gut's biggest failure so far.

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GBPDAN1's picture

March 23, 2018 at 02:23 pm

I'm glad I'm getting thumbs downs. Because we all know that our pass D is top notch with the current list of DBs on our roster, we are set for a SB run. King as a MAYBE shut down CB this year and Jones as a MAYBE safety that can Cover in the backend , and " I gave up HHCD" and a bunch of no names make for a solid secondary. There's no way we needed a quality, experienced, proven CB that was sitting there in FA.

There's also no way we should have concentrated on a Pass rusher with our first pick, because Clay is still in his prime as a pro bowl edge rusher and Clay and Perry will never be hurt and miss games. Our pass rush was so dominant last year, it was fun to watch. So, let's now through a dart at a CB with our first pick and land a non first round pass rush talent in the second rd. I'm so glad we didn't pick up a stud CB in FA. I'm going to give myself a Delusional thumbs down like the others..... LOL.

Come on Packer brothers, don't you want to win now? Or, waste another one of Rodgers prime years? Do we want to watch hated teams crush our D, again? FA quality CB was the way to go, and our team failed to get one. So, Now who's out there to get as a #1 CB? Should of had King try to be our #2 CB this year.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

March 23, 2018 at 10:14 pm

I agree, GBD, I agree.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 23, 2018 at 08:51 am

Just a great addition. Wish they signed him for 2 years. All the same, a reunion with Pettine, and a great start might lead to an extension.

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dobber's picture

March 23, 2018 at 09:43 am

A catch-22 to a point. I like the addition and the circumstances: he's going to be motivated to do well. But he's just a rental. If he continues to dog it as he did at the end with the Jets, they don't bring him back. If he plays at his best, he'll either price himself out of the Packers plans or force the Packers to look at his history and think long and hard about whether they want to commit longer term and bigger dollars to him.

I agree with Tundraboy: 2 years on an incentive-laden deal would have been good, but from Wilkerson's perspective, he probably wants to have a good season and get back on the market as quickly as possible.

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kevgk's picture

March 23, 2018 at 11:53 am

packers will have the cap to afford to give him a nice contract next year. Why are you certain he wants to ditch the team?

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dobber's picture

March 23, 2018 at 12:34 pm

I'm not, but I'm supposing that he might be looking for that last big(ger) contract. It could come from the Packers, but whichever team signs him has to be sure they're getting high-effort Mo Wilkerson and not the Mo Wilkerson of the last couple years with the Jets after he got paid last time.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 23, 2018 at 10:04 am

The Wilkerson signing to me impacts the whole defense. This to me was a great pick up by Gutekkunst.

First he instantly makes the DL better. Adding him to Daniels and Clark form a trio they haven't had for a while.
They now have 3 guys who will give offensive lines tons of problems. Clark was becoming a dominating player in year 2. Adding Wilkerson to that could be scary.
Then as a rotation they have Lowry, and Adams whom we have yet to really see, but was highly thought of.

Not only that, but it also helps the LB's out. It will allow Martinez and Mathews more room to run. Mathews and Perry might find more opportunities to get to the QB with more pass rush from the DL.

Great pick up and should help the defense out a lot!

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Razer's picture

March 23, 2018 at 10:09 am

I hope that Wilkerson's demons don't follow him to Green Bay - time will tell. I do like that Gutekunst and our new DC appear to be placing an emphasis on the D-line and pressure from that group. TT seem to place a 3rd/4th round value on that group. You have to go back to 2010 to see much talent on the front big men.

If we could add a starting stud to the D-line, a good CB and some O-line tackle depth to this team via the draft, I will consider it a success. Anything beyond that is gravy.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 23, 2018 at 10:53 am

"You have to go back to 2010 to see much talent on the front big men."

All began with letting Jenkins go, Raji's decline, and never replacing or adding along the way until Daniels and Clark. Proves to me it all starts with the line.

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cuervo's picture

March 23, 2018 at 01:42 pm

Ted tried like hell to replace and add talent. Unfortunately, until Clark none of his high round draft picks turned out to be worth anything.

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stockholder's picture

March 23, 2018 at 10:38 am

I still wonder if they won't follow the 2009 draft. Vita Vea and Landry if they get the chance. If Wilkerson plays great. Looks like a Pickett long term. Either way, I think it's a positive move to the future.

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cheesehead1's picture

March 23, 2018 at 11:09 am

D line looks good. Would like to see Perry stay healthy for a full season.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 23, 2018 at 11:45 am

Ross Cockrell signed with Carolina for 2 years, $6.8M. That is pretty cheap. Twill might cost that.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 23, 2018 at 11:53 am

Likely means Breeland will not be signing with them. Perhaps the Packers will look at adding him?

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kevgk's picture

March 23, 2018 at 11:57 am

Ross cockrell is young and on the rise in his career. Williams is like 35 and a known quantity, only downhill here on out. He will likely be getting veteran minimum, maybe less than two million.

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