Jets star defensive end Sheldon Richardson has been suspended for four games due to a violation of the leagues substances abuse policy. Richardson will lose $310,353 in salary and forfeit another $334,823 in bonus money. That is a major financial loss for a player scheduled to earn just under $1.32 million for the season. Richardson will also lose the guarantee protection in his current contract.
The way that these suspensions work is that Richardson will be allowed to participate in training camp and the preseason and his suspension will go into effect following final cutdowns. At that point the Jets will see Richardson’s cap number reduce by $310,353. They will receive a full credit the following year for the forfeited signing bonus.
The suspension is an interesting one for the Jets who are currently in the midst of a contract dispute with defensive end Muhmmad Wilkerson. Prior to this suspension one would assume that the Jets felt they had a great deal of leverage in talks with Wilkerson due to the presence of Richardson and top draft pick Leonard Williams. While I don’t believe a four game suspension changes that leverage (if anything it gives them more of a chance to see Williams play) the long term effects could change the thought process.
Once a player is involved in the suspension process the penalties begin to increase dramatically. While Richardson will say all the right things, the fact is the team has to worry about any future hiccups. Financially they are protected, but if they stand in the future to lose Richardson for more time, perhaps as much as a season, well then it makes more sense to take care of Wilkerson’s contract ASAP.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles recently dealt with a situation like that in Arizona with Daryl Washington who was signed to a lucrative contract extension and proceeded to be suspended multiple times, missing all of 2014. Players that could have been useful to the team were allowed to walk because of Washington’s presence. He probably doesnt want to see the same occur in New York if they can prevent it.