Sheldon Richardson in Trouble Again…

Jets defenisve end Sheldon Richardson, currently slated to begin a four game suspension for a drug violation in September, was arrested and recently charged for resisting arrest following being clocked driving 143 mph. Brian Costello was all over this one:

Richardson’s off the field decisions are now putting the Jets in a very difficut position regarding their future roster decisions and at this point the team is going to need to look long and hard at a player who promised just a short time ago there would be no more problems from him.I dont think there is any denying the ability of Richardson on the field. While I certainly play favorites with the Jets I dont think it is a stretch to say that he is the best 34 defensive end outside of JJ Watt in Houston. He is a monster on the field and can dominate the field of play. But with multiple slip ups related to marijuana and now this latest incident the team absolutely has to begin to question his reliability.

The Jets drafted a defensive end, Leonard Williams, with the 6th overall pick to seemingly replace Muhammad Wilkerson, another top defensive end in the NFL in a year when Wilkerson became a free agent. Wilkerson may be a more complete player than Richardson at this stage, but he isnt the physical talent that Richardson is nor what Williams projects to be. Wilkerson has reportedly been seeking a contract worth in excess of $14 million a season which the Jets, rightfully in my opinion, have not agreed to.

But for as good as Richardson may be, the Jets are in a position where Richardson should not be looked at in the same light as players like Daryl Washington and Josh Gordon, who can’t keep their off the field exploits from impacting their on the field availability. Richardson is already a marked man in the eyes of the NFL and a little slip up is going to cause significant suspension time.

Currently Richardson has two yers remaining on his contract and the Jets can pick up an injury guaranteed option year on him for 2017 after the season. However, if Richardson is suspended for a longer period of time following this arrest he risks his status as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. You need 6 weeks on an active roster for at least four seasons to qualify  for veteran free agency. If he does not get it this year he will be a RFA in 2017 and the Jets will have no reason to pick up the option. That would cost Richardson around $8 million in salary in 2017. So this could be a massive financial loss for him.

If I was the Jets I would be very concerned about his availability for the future. The team needs to look long and hard at his situation and decide if there is a future for him in New York. Because if there is not they should work on getting Wilkerson’s contract finalized before falling into a position where they are desperate to re-sign him with Richardson sitting on the sidelines. You look at mistakes teams have made and you dont want to make the one where you let one player walk away while keeping your fingers crossed that another one really, really, really means it this time when he says he wont get in more trouble.

As a fan it’s tough to see with Richardson. While he was never going to be the most popular player on the team, he was the team’s best draft pick since Darrelle Revis in 2007. You had dreams of the next generation of the “sack exchange” being on it’s way with Richardson as an unstoppable force. Now  I’d be prepared to move on without him.

I think at this point Id be worried enough about Richardson to where you are hoping to get to showcase him this year and turn around and hope to find a trade partner next season, especially if the organization was kept in the dark the last two weeks about this situation. Maybe thats the rash Jets fan in me talking and being extra pessimistic from years of heartbreak following this team, but the Jets are in a rare position where they clearly have a suitable player in Wilkerson to be a long term contributor and I’m not sure they can afford to lose him now.

Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @jason_otc