No, no, a thousand times no.
That’s my unsolicited advice to New Orleans Saints officials who reportedly are considering taking a flyer on 28-year-old free agent defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who was pushed out the door by the New York Jets with three years remaining on a five-year, $86 million contract.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Wilkerson enters free agency with a “buyer beware’’ disclaimer after displaying questionable behavior and work ethic that resulted in him being benched for the final three games of the 2017 season.
Jets officials put him down to ensure they would not be on the hook for his scheduled 2018 salary of $16.75 million in the event of injury.
Look, Wilkerson, the 30th overall pick in the 2011 draft, is an intriguing prospect. Twice in seven seasons, he racked up double-digit sacks totals — 12 in 2015 and 10.5 in 2013. But only eight of his career 44.5 sacks have come the past two seasons while dealing with shoulder and ankle injuries after he signed the long-term, megabuck deal following his Pro-Bowl campaign in ’15.
He pocketed $37 million the past two seasons — all guaranteed; $22 million in base salary and a $15 million signing bonus.
Wilkerson will end up on some team’s roster, perhaps even before the start of free agency at 3 p.m. Wednesday. He already has visited with the Green Bay Packers, and I suspect he and his agent, Chad Wiestling, have other visits scheduled.
That said, if Saints officials could get Wilkerson at the right price (a team-friendly contract would feature a modest guarantee and laden with incentives) and he wins over GM Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton, Wilkerson may not get out of town.
In other words, if the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.
Wilkerson is not the edge rusher they truly need to complement All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan, but he would definitely upgrade Dennis Allen’s up-and-coming defensive unit.
News of Wilkerson’s pending visit to New Orleans coincides with news that Saints officials are taking a precursory look at projected first-round draft pick quarterback Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, a wannabe Drew Brees with a Johnny Manziel persona.
Undoubtedly, Saints officials are kicking the tires with Wilkerson and Mayfield and ultimately will do their due diligence before determining if either would be a good fit in the Black and Gold locker room.
News like this is a precursor of what promises to be a compelling start to free agency and the draft in late April (26-28).
And I haven’t even mentioned pending news of Drew Brees’ future in the Big Easy.
Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.