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Jets' decision to tag Muhammad Wilkerson could have serious fallout

With Muhammad Wilkerson (center) getting the franchise tag, the Jets may be hard-pressed to re-sign Damon Harrison (left). Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

As of Monday afternoon, the New York Jets hadn't announced their intentions for the franchise tag (they have until 4 p.m. Tuesday), but they've decided to use it on Pro Bowl defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, a league source said. A few takeaways:

1. It was the right decision. It was the only decision.

2. Wilkerson won't be happy -- he'll probably skip the offseason conditioning program again -- but he knew this was coming. The two sides have until July 15 to hammer out a long-term deal. Failing that, he'll make $15.7 million in 2016. But ...

3. The franchise tag doesn't tie Wilkerson to the Jets for the 2016 season. I believe they will explore the possibility of a tag-and-trade, looking to see if they can find a deal that would justify trading their top defensive player from 2015. Good luck with that. Even though he's one of the top free agents, it'll be hard to find a team willing to meet his asking price (figure north of $40 million in guarantees) and compensate the Jets with an attractive pick and/or players. The bigger question is ...

4. Why even consider a tag-and-trade? Well, the team has cap issues and moving Wilkerson would free up the $15.7 million. The Jets already have a lot of resources invested in the defensive line, and they'll have to pour more into it to retain Damon Harrison, a pending free agent. In my opinion, it would be an ill-advised decision to trade Wilkerson. He's only 26, one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL. The idea is to keep good players, not send them packing.

5. The player most affected is Harrison. Barring a contract extension, Big Snacks will be permitted to negotiate with other teams, starting next Monday, during the NFL's "legal tampering" period for free agents. The prospect of that happening can't be a good feeling for the Jets, who very much want to retain their big man in the middle. General manager Mike Maccagnan floated the possibility last week of using the tag on Harrison, but that was just a negotiating ploy to create the illusion of leverage. Privately, Maccagnan had been telling people for months the plan was to tag Wilkerson. Now his job is to make sure he doesn't lose Harrison, who would have many suitors on the open market.