By Nick Shook
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Muhammad Wilkerson is back in the doghouse.
“I’m worried about the guys that I’m coaching,” Bowles said when reporters pressed him for a reason for the decision. “I’m not worried about [Wilkerson] right now.”
A team source told NFL Network’s Jane Slater that the decision stems from Wilkerson being late to a team meeting this month.
Wilkerson and Bowles butted heads last season, with the coach benching him and the since-traded Sheldon Richardson. Wilkerson also once blew off a team walkthrough, which included him missing his own birthday celebration with teammates.
More recently, Wilkerson was benched in the first quarter of New York’s win over Kansas City in Week 13. Now, he’s not even getting the chance to attend the game.
This seems like it might be the final straw for Bowles and the Jets when it comes to Wilkerson, who’s been habitually tardy for team meetings and unapologetic for his actions in recent meetings with reporters. The Jets are on the hook for at least $9 million in dead cap (according to Spotrac) if they choose to release Wilkerson after this season and don’t have a realistic potential out until after the 2018 season, when that dead cap number drops to $6 million. Their best route to divorce, then, would be a trade, though New York would hold very little leverage in negotiations.
This is a bridge New York will cross in the offseason. For now, though, Wilkerson will spend Sunday at home, far from his teammates or an NFL sideline.