Muhammad Wilkerson – Defensive Tackle/Defensive End
28 years old (2011 first-round pick/30th overall – New York Jets)
2017 Stats (New York Jets): 13 games played/12 games started – 1 interception, 3.5 sacks, 46 total tackles
Contract: 1-year, $9 million
Muhammad Wilkerson was recently released by the New York Jets due to attitude issues and has reportedly skipped meetings frequently. However, his talent is undeniable.
A Pro Bowler in 2015, Wilkerson recorded 12 sacks, forced three fumbles and finished with 64 total tackles. He has played in at least 13 games in each of the seven seasons he has been in the NFL and has recorded at least three sacks in each of those seasons.
The production is clearly there for Wilkerson, but as stated above, he has his warts. Signing him and putting him in the middle of the defensive line would do wonders for not only the run defense, but the pass-rush as well. Typically a 3-4 defensive end, Wilkerson has the size at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, to move to the middle and wreak havoc.
In this scenario, Wilkerson only gets a one-year deal because he is 28 and he isn’t a perfect fit for the defense. Essentially, this is a prove-it deal for Wilkerson. He can get one year and be productive and move on to greener pastures.
David Irving – Defensive Tackle
24 years old (2015 undrafted free agent – Kansas City Chiefs)
2017 Stats (Dallas Cowboys): 8 games played/8 games started – 7 sacks, 22 total tackles
Contract: 6-years, $81 million ($13.5 million/year)
A career year has catapulted David Irving to stardom and is one of the best young defensive tackles in the NFL. He recorded seven sacks and 13 tackles as a defensive tackle in just eight games last season, dominating opponents from inside.
Irving came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs before signing to the Dallas Cowboys active roster in 2015. He was an effective player in 2016, playing in 15 games and recording four sacks.
On the inside of the defensive line, Irving is an absolute monster. He is built like a defensive end at 6-foot-7 and 273 pounds, but his length, power, and speed are almost impossible to block for opposing offensive linemen. His ability to rush the passer from the middle of the defensive front is something this defense desperately needs.
The biggest issue with Irving is the off-the-field issues. He was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy this past season, missing four games. That doesn’t necessarily click with the team’s straight-and-narrow policy, but piecing his talent with the team’s other veteran leaders could allow him to grow and learn.
Being only 24, inking Irving to a six-year deal makes sense. He is entering his prime and will only get better as he gets older. He will make plenty of money, but would make more if it weren’t for the off-the-field issues.
Kyle Williams – Defensive Tackle
33 years old (2006 fifth-round pick/134th overall – Buffalo Bills)
2017 Stats (Buffalo Bills): 16 games played/16 games started – 5 sacks, 64 total tackles
Contract: 1-year, $6 million
This one is a no-brainer. Kyle Williams is the heart and soul of this team and should be retained if he chooses not to retire. Without a salary cap, the team can offer as much as they need to for him to return to the roster for one more season and not worry about letting him go to another team due to money.
Bringing Williams back would be major to help keep Irving and Wilkerson in order and he can teach them the defense and how to mature – much like he did with Marcell Dareus. Kyle is far too important to this team to lose, and paying him $6 million for one season is a bargain for everything that he does for this franchise and community.