Mo Wilkerson won't play for the Jets on Sunday afternoon, and it's possible he'll never play for the Jets again.
Jets coach Todd Bowles is considering turning Wilkerson's one-week punishment into something more, according to a team source, including possibly sitting him for the final two games of the season, too. And with Wilkerson now a virtual lock to be cut in March before his 2018 salary becomes guaranteed, that means he may have played the final game of his Jets career.
Wilkerson, of course, didn't travel to New Orleans with the Jets for their game against the Saints on Sunday after he showed up very late to the team's morning meeting on Friday, a team source said. When he finally arrived on Friday, Wilkerson had a conversation with what a team source said was a "very angry" Bowles, and then the 28-year-old defensive end left the Jets practice facility before practice began.
Bowles said little about the incident or his "coaching decision," but when asked if he had made any decisions about Wilkerson's status for the last two games of the season, the coach said "nope."
What he's considering, according to a source, is declaring Wilkerson inactive for both games - on Christmas Eve at home against the Los Angeles Chargers and on New Year's Eve in New England. It's also possible the Jets could suspend him for those games, which would also cause Wilkerson to lose two weeks of pay.
At this point, it seems to make little sense to keep Wilkerson around, since multiple team sources have insisted there's no chance he returns next season. He carries a $20 million salary cap figure for next season and he'll make $16.75 million guaranteed if he's still on the roster on March 16. The Jets can save either $11 million or $17 million in cap space in 2018, depending on whether or not he's designated as "June 1" cut.
That makes the decision to cut him a no-brainer considering he's had eight sacks in 28 games since signing a five-year, $86 million contract, and he's been benched for what one team source said was "chronic lateness" four times in the last three years.
Bowles and Wilkerson are expected to meet on Monday after the Jets return to work to prepare for their final two games. It's unclear if Wilkerson can say or do anything at this point to get back in the team's good graces, because there's clearly a disconnect there.
Wilkerson's agent, Chad Wiestling, told the New York Post that his client had notified the team on Friday that he was going to be late because of a "personal matter" involving his children. A team source said it was unlikely that Wilkerson would've been benched if there was any real family emergency, especially if he notified the team.