Report: Free Agent DE Muhammad Wilkerson Likely to Visit Packers

-- Free agency doesn't start for another nine days, but that isn't going to stop Green Bay Packers G.M. Brian Gutekunst from pulling a few strings beforehand.

On Monday, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport said that soon-to-be free agent defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will likely have Green Bay as his first free agency visit once he's released by the New York Jets.

Despite announcing it last week, the #Jets haven’t officially released DE Muhammad Wilkerson yet. That should happen today... and I’m told his first free agent visit is likely to be with the #Packers. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine could help rejuvenate his career.

There's an obvious connection that could entice Wilkerson to the Packers, and it's defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Pettine served as the Jets' defensive coordinator and housed a top-five defense in nearly every statistical category in his four seasons with the team. While Wilkerson was fresh off of being drafted with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and hadn't hit his career peak until after Pettine left New York, there's a chance the 28-year-old would find new purpose with Pettine at the helm for a second go-around.

Wilkerson's dip in 2017 -- both on and off the field -- was a significant factor that led to his release and can't be overlooked if coming to a team whose dirty laundry with Martellus Bennett was broadcasted for all to see last season.

Wilkerson faced a one-game suspension towards the end stages of the season after being late to a team meeting and hit career-lows since his rookie years in sacks and tackles, and started his fewest amount of games since 2014. Reconnecting with Pettine, however, could be a way to maximize his production in a new environment.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari was one step ahead of the game in coaxing Wilkerson to Green Bay.

Rapoport also noted that, since Wilkerson will have been released, signing him wouldn't count against the Packers' compensatory pick formula. They're still expected to enter draft weekend with their 12 picks, barring any unforeseen changes between now and the end of April.

Gutekunst said he wanted to be aggressive in his first stint as the Packers' G.M. and pursuing Wilkerson to form a trio of him, Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark along the defensive line is certainly a good way to follow through with that.

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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 (68)

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The TKstinator's picture

March 05, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Likely to command a price out of GB's range, methinks.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

March 05, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Lots of money for a 3rd D lineman when all signs point to 2 on the field most of the time.

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TheVOR's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:13 pm

Ya, you guys are dead nuts, as awesome as it would be to have bookend DE's that are monsters, our cap is so hopelessly messed up with bad contracts, that I see no way possible we could or would be able to afford this player. Can you imagine our line with Daniels, Clark, and Wilkerson? OMG, this team would be transformed! If you could keep Glass Perry and Mathews on the field and keep that base lineup intact? That's a Superbowl run right there! Will never happen his discount would have to be so deep, and he'll never take a big paycut to play in GB. As mentioned, our cap is too hopeless at this point. Anyone thinking this team is going to make some splash in UFA is fooling themselves. Our cap and extended contracts has been so poorly managed, we're basically screwed once Rodgers gets his contract. We'll have 80% of the cap tied up in 6 Players. And we're going to sign this guy? Pff! Right..

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marpag1's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:25 pm

I've never seen anything in any of your 'replies' which gives any indication that you have even so much as read the post to which you are replying.

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TheVOR's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:15 pm

I'm not sure what about my posts has you believing I didn't read the Post? What specifically did I say?

Are you implying the fact that he's had discipline issues would somehow drop his cap number to that of a pillow deal? I mean the dude is not slouch, he's in fact a really decent football player, I just don't see us as getting a discount because he got pissed in a meeting.

I mean to think because he formally played for for our DC doesn't mean he's not a healthy $ value.

I mean, you said that, tell me specifically what you're eluding too?

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marpag1's picture

March 06, 2018 at 03:25 am

It's probably pointless to argue with someone who wants to know what I am "eluding too" ("what am I also avoiding or escaping?" LOL!), but let me give you something to ponder. Did Zack or TKstinator or jeremyjjbrown or, y'know, anyone suggest that Wilkerson would come cheap, or that the Packers would sign him? When you talk about "you guys who are dead nuts" and "Pffff" at their ideas, who are you talking to?

I love it when internet tough guys want to get righteous about stupid ideas that no one actually said... except for themselves.

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 07:20 am

He wants to know what you are trying to avoid or escape, TOO. I think he's reaching out to a kindred spirit and looking for comfort...

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marpag1's picture

March 06, 2018 at 07:28 am

I figured he was working pretty hard to avoid reality and common sense, and just assumed that other people were trying to do the same.

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 07:40 am

Guilty.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 06, 2018 at 08:55 pm

Perhaps he meant that we are deceased people with mental health issues. (“Dead nuts”)
I would offer that while my mental health may indeed be in question, I am very much alive.
So I’ve got that going for me.
Which is nice.

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Thanks, Carl.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 07, 2018 at 06:36 am

The pond is good enough for me.

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dobber's picture

March 07, 2018 at 07:21 am

We could do this all day and probably half the people here would have no clue...it makes me sad.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 07, 2018 at 05:08 pm

Same here.
Sgt. Hulka is smiling down on us right now.

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OrganLeroy's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:28 pm

They wouldn't bring him in if they weren't confident they could handle the contract$$.

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dobber's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:45 pm

It can't hurt to kick the tires. If he really likes Pettine and wants to play for him, who knows what they could get done?

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Since'61's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:54 pm

Exactly Organ! They probably already have an idea how much it will take to sign him. If not why waste everyone's time? Thanks, Since '61

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John Kirk's picture

March 06, 2018 at 04:54 pm

I'd rather see Mo in Green Bay and opt for the best player available at 14 (Sutton, if he isn't drafted by the Niners or Bears) than sign Moncrief or Richardson and take Landry if we're talking hypotheticals.

None of us know what signing Wilkerson would mean exactly, Maybe, we release Jordy or RC18? Maybe, Bulaga goes? Maybe, it's Clay...but I doubt that.

Would you sacrifice a year or two of declining Jordy for a few with Wilkerson under Pettine? I would.

Everything affects everything. If they sign Mo, something is going to happen that wouldn't have if we didn't.

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sheppercheeser's picture

March 05, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Sounds like he is a talent, but has had problems staying motivated to play at a high level. His upside is that he played for Pettine previously so there is some significant familiarity there. I'm sure he wouldn't come cheap, but it may be worth it if he can be a difference-maker.

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Savage57's picture

March 06, 2018 at 08:27 am

The gamble with Wilkerson?

Are you getting a Charles Woodson or a Martellus Bennett?

On the one hand, a guy with a rep who overcame it, versus a guy with a rep who validated it.

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Rossonero's picture

March 05, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Give him a 1 year prove it deal with incentives. His risk can be priced into the contract. Mike Daniels and Mike Pettine can keep him in line.

Do it, Gute!

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Bure9620's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:31 pm

I don't think a 1 year prove it deal would interest him at age 28, he will garner much more on on the open market.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 05, 2018 at 06:29 pm

Then I hope the Packers tell him if things don't develop like that on the market, there is always a one yr, prove it deal waiting for him in GB with a guy that helped him get $53 mil guaranteed once before.

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marpag1's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:05 pm

Unless Pettine is rock-solid certain that he can keep Wilkerson focused AND unless Wilkerson is willing to sign for pennies on the dollar compared to the 20 million he was slated to earn with the Jets, I think I'd take a pass. Bottom line, the talent is there, but I don't really trust him.

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TommyG's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:27 pm

Odds are high that he’s coming to Green Bay just to leverage a better deal elsewhere.

He probably has some skill left but after the Bennett fiasco, our team is going to be hesitant to sign someone with behavior issues.

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Colin_C's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:34 pm

I would absolutely love this signing. Daniels, Clark, and Wilkerson would be an absolute terror for O-lines. Forget pass rush from our OLB's, these guy could generate 75% of the pressure needed. Cap space is the issue though. I had heard if we extend Rodgers, it actually would open up more cap space this year. I'm no cap expert whatsoever, so if anyone know's if that's actually true, let me know. If it is, that could allow for a prove it short term contract this year. Here's hoping Ball can work some magic!

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Cubbygold's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:41 pm

Would certainly shake up the playbook for the draft and how the team approaches the cobb/matthews/jordy contract negotiations.

Is the team better with Wilkerson, Jordy in the slot and a 1st round draft pick at WR... or renegotiated jordy and cobb contracts and a 1st round edge?

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Colin_C's picture

March 05, 2018 at 05:43 pm

With those two scenarios, I would definitely argue the first is better for the team in the next few seasons. You could still take an EDGE guy in the first round even, and target receivers in the mid rounds. I don't have official stats to back it up, but I would bet that there are a lot more productive WR's who were drafted in the later rounds that EDGE guys taken around the same spot. It's just easier to find good receivers. If you take one in the first, he'd better be really, really good.

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stockholder's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:42 pm

His signing might mean Vea is off the board. Then this becomes a draft for speed. And thats more than likely the better thing that could happen. @ #14 Ward CB is your man. But cross your fingers for smith.ILB @45 Mike Gesicki TE @76 TE Mark Anders.

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 07:22 am

My guess is that this signing wouldn't change the first round for the Packers at all...

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zoellner25's picture

March 05, 2018 at 01:51 pm

complete head case and cancer

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Point-Packer's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:20 pm

Head case cancers help with Super Bowls every once and awhile. Marty Bennett won two of them with New England and he is certainly both.

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Rossonero's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:44 pm

Exactly. Andre Rison was no angel back in 1996 either, but we signed him.

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Point-Packer's picture

March 06, 2018 at 03:37 pm

Randy Moss wasn't the mild mannered TV personality back when New England grabbed him. He was a hot headed nut ball.

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EdsLaces's picture

March 05, 2018 at 05:35 pm

I know someone that put a fence up for moss in our home state of wv. Upon completion he took 1 look at it and had one side entirely taken up and moved a foot over lol.

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Point-Packer's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:23 pm

Teams that sit tight in Free Agency, don't win Super Bowls anymore. If this move happens, it adds depth to a position group with little and immediately makes GB one of the more hyped D-lines coming into the 2018 season. Get him locked in at the right price, pull the trigger, Gute.

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dobber's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:19 pm

He's not Calais Campbell, but he'll be the closest thing to it on the market this year. For teams that feel that they know how to keep his head on straight, he could have a huge impact. The fact that he seems (based on these rumors) to be seeking out Mike Pettine is a step in the right direction.

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Point-Packer's picture

March 05, 2018 at 04:50 pm

Right. If that's the case, great to hear. No player I ever heard of sought out Dom Capers......

But the news media and many writers on this blog defended him for years.

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ricky's picture

March 05, 2018 at 05:17 pm

This post hits the bullseye. Wilkerson has the chance to be the next Peppers signing, if Pettine can motivate him to play hard. Or, he could be the next Joe Johnson, if he gets paid big guaranteed money, and decides he can slide by on his reputation. The question is, how many million do you gamble that he'll be productive?

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jww061356's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:38 pm

Given the new power structure, I doubt he's visiting just to leverage the market. Might see a rejuvenation of his career on a prove it deal w/Pettine as a way to get back to 20 mil a year. Why not kick the tires?

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4thand1's picture

March 05, 2018 at 02:40 pm

Don't like it, doesn't feel right. Gute may bring him in which is good, but don't have to sign anyone right away. Kick the tires and see what other teams will offer, i'm sure someone will over pay as usual. For a guy looking for a last big payday contract at his age, he doesn't appear to be making smart choices..................RED FLAG!

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Since'61's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:07 pm

Wilkerson may see this as his last shot at an SB ring. Being reunited with Pettine plus playing with a HOF QB may be enough for Wilkerson to return to his old form or close to it. Also it can't hurt to have a player who is familiar with Pettine's defense. Reggie White was 32 when the Packers signed him and he had plenty left in his tank. Wilkerson had some good seasons with the Jets and I would be fine if the Packers sign him. Thanks, Since '61

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 07:26 am

Maybe not his last shot at a SB ring at 28, but an important shot to re-establish himself as a player worth more than 2-year contracts. If he blows (or blows off) this next shot, he'll likely become that talented/tease guy who bounces around on one-year deals for a couple years and ends his career prematurely.

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Handsback's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:14 pm

My question isn't if the Packers can financially swing a deal with Wilkerson...it's if Pettine wants him in tow.
Let's face it, when motivated, Wilkinson is a better DE than Daniels. The Dline of Daniels, Wilkinson, and Clark is strong and the second wave wouldn't give a lot of relief to the opponents oline. This strengthens the middle and keeps the LBs free to crash from the edge and middle. I don't want to get my hopes up, but this is a good sign.

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Bure9620's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:18 pm

He can be a solid 5 tech, I am guessing he starts with more base fronts from Pettine. Wilkerson at the 5, Daniels at the 3 and Clark 1, Lowry will rotate in at the 5 , and Montravius at the 3 and 1 as well. This could be a formidable young front.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 05, 2018 at 03:26 pm

Pettine would know what he is getting with Wilkerson. Just the fact that the he is supposed to have interest of GB says that the Pettine wants him. That to me is enough of an endorsement.

With Pettine, I think he will find ways to get the most out of Clark, Daniels and Wilkerson (if they would sign him).

The biggest problem will be the contract. We have no idea what kind of money he will be looking at getting. So that part would have to be worked out.

If they are able to get him for a reasonable deal even if its a one year deal, i think it would be worth it to bring him in.

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Bure9620's picture

March 05, 2018 at 04:05 pm

Updated Mock from first pick.com WITH the Wilkerson signing;

Round 1 Pick 21 (BUF): James, Derwin, SS/FS, Florida State (A)
Round 1 Pick 22 (BUF): Jackson, Josh, CB, Iowa (A-)
Round 2 Pick 13: Key, Arden, DE/OLB, LSU (A-)
Round 3 Pick 12: Goedert, Dallas, TE, South Dakota State (A+)
Round 4 Pick 14: Smith, TreQuan, WR, Central Florida (A+)
Round 4 Pick 25 (TENN): Jackson, Donte, CB, LSU (A+)
Round 5 Pick 35: Benkert, Kurt, QB, Virginia (A)
Round 5 Pick 37: Cabinda, Jason, ILB, Penn State (A)
Round 6 Pick 39 (MINN): Scarbrough, Bo, RB, Alabama (A+)
Round 7 Pick 21: Adams, Tony, OG, North Carolina State (A+)
Round 7 Pick 23 (WASH): Lotulelei, Lowell, DT, Utah (A+)

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Bure9620's picture

March 05, 2018 at 04:41 pm

Some caveats, Donte Jackson is 5'10" and change so he falls outside the typical Packer threshold of Corner measurables over 5'11" but it was the 4th round and he can fly.

Baker Mayfield was available at 14 so Buffalo tried to come up and get ahead of Arizona, got both their 1st rounders for it.

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Cubbygold's picture

March 05, 2018 at 05:47 pm

Am I supposed to read this as GB trades their #14 for buffalo's #21 and #22? If so, that seems like a trade Buffalo would never make.

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Bure9620's picture

March 05, 2018 at 06:17 pm

Crazier trades have been made to get a QB

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Packer_Fan's picture

March 05, 2018 at 06:56 pm

I like getting two first rounders. But with a 1st and 5th in trade.

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NickPerry's picture

March 06, 2018 at 05:41 am

There is NO WAY Derwin James lasts until #21 and I'm not so sure Josh Jackson will last until #22 either. It's a nice thought, just don't think there's much of a chance it will happen.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

March 05, 2018 at 04:29 pm

Daniels, Wilkinson, and Clark
Would be nice

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HankScorpio's picture

March 05, 2018 at 05:57 pm

In 2016, Wilkerson signed a 5-year deal with $53 million guaranteed.

Since then, he posted 4.5 sacks and 3.5 sacks.

Some guys cash in and then pack it in. This guy fits that bill.

Pass.

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nostradanus's picture

March 05, 2018 at 06:21 pm

Im glad "herr Gute" is coming out swinging right off the combine, he said he at least wants to be in the mix and doesn't want to leave any stones unturned, so why not have a look see and kick the tires.

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Packer_Fan's picture

March 05, 2018 at 06:43 pm

I would be more hopeful if the restructuring or releasing of the contracts of Nelson, Cobb, Matthews and Bulaga were started or done. Then you know how much money you have to work with. But I still hold that we need a lockdown corner first. Then a fast middle of the road receiver in FA. And then some veteran fill ins. And I say again, use the 12 draft picks to trade up to get better quality.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 06, 2018 at 03:26 am

Yes, I've been thinking along those lines. But IDK, if Gute signed Wilkerson to a one year deal for say $7M and then even modest moves like re-signing RR and Jahri type moves, Nelson/Cobb/CM3 would know Gute isn't bluffing about restructuring to reduce cap hits: GB will simply have to do that, or cut someone.

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 07:29 am

Yeah, I think the timing on those re-ups will go with other dominos falling, whether it's signing new FAs or re-doing ARod's deal. The rumors are out there, but why ruffle feathers until you know that you need to?

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CAG123's picture

March 06, 2018 at 03:23 am

Maybe a change of environment is what he needs to find that hunger again definitely worth a look. Would be an instant upgrade over Dean Lowry.

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NickPerry's picture

March 06, 2018 at 05:52 am

I was hoping this would happen when "Mo" was released. If the Packers could get a deal done with Wilkerson it immediately improves this defense in a big way. Having a guy like Mo makes Daniels and Clark that much better playing next to him. Could you imagine a front 4 on passing downs of Daniels, Clark, Wilkerson, and Perry on the edge? Throw in Matthews moving around much like he did in 2014 and you suddenly have a damn lethal pass rush. How much you want to bet King, Randall, and who ever else is lining up at CB suddenly looks a hell of a lot better.

I'd also imagine this is EXACTLY the type of move Rodgers would love to see the Packers making. I like it.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 07, 2018 at 01:50 am

I'm with you on that. Imagining Perry and Matthew healthy though, we'll see.

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Donster's picture

March 06, 2018 at 06:46 am

Could be a good addition to the team. However, with the new cap figures released, it shows the Packers at under $12 million cap space. So to sign FA's, there is going to have to be three contracts re-negotiated, or two to three players cut. We know the three.

I would be very leery of Wilkerson. Like many players, he got the big contract, and possibly quit putting forward the effort that got him that contract. On the other side of it, he was with the Jets. One of the train wrecks of the NFL. So frustration in the team could have some to do with his commitment. Being on a team with a coach he respects, and the best QB in the league, could light a fire in him. He isn't that old yet. If they sign him, I agree a one year "prove it" deal should be used.

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sonomaca's picture

March 06, 2018 at 01:14 pm

Alert: Vikes will offer Cousins $30 million a year, fully guaranteed. That means #12 looking at maybe $40 million fully guaranteed.

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Office@twitterrealityshow.com's picture

March 06, 2018 at 01:24 pm

I want Pack to sign Wilkerson draft VitaVea at 14 and trade draft picks to move up and take Josh Jackson. That would guarantee a solid defense upgrade

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TXCHEESE's picture

March 06, 2018 at 01:46 pm

Bringing Wilkerson in would definitely strengthen the DL as a whole. Something the Pack has sorely been missing is pressure on the interior. Rotating Lowry and Adams in would give the DL a serious boost, and keep the opposing QBs from escaping the outside pressure by climbing the pocket. Is he a head case that only wants the money? I believe Petine probably has as good an idea what make Wilkerson tick as anyone. Obviously the price has to be right, but if the Packers can sign him before he leaves town that keeps the price from going up.

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dobber's picture

March 06, 2018 at 04:03 pm

"Obviously the price has to be right, but if the Packers can sign him before he leaves town that keeps the price from going up."

In a sense, but you're also buying out his opportunity to take additional bids.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 06, 2018 at 03:18 pm

Wilkerson is visiting GB tomorrow. He was supposed to visit today but weather prevented him from flying in.

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Point-Packer's picture

March 06, 2018 at 03:40 pm

Amazing it took Mashed Potato Mike so long to fire Capers. We now have a D-coordinator of whom players actually want to play for. Looking back on Rodgers career, it will be the Caper defenses, and Missionary Mike's stubbornness to not change D coordinators, that will be the sole reason he is not considered the greatest of all time.

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