Yesterday Manish published a very interesting article in relation to Sheldon Richardson, and I encourage everyone to head over to the NY Daily News to give that a read in full.
A lot has been made about Sheldon Richardson's immaturity. He missed 4 games this season for failing a drugs test, relating to marijuana. He is also subject to further suspension in relation to an arrest in Missouri this off-season. Sheldon talks about the mistakes he made, and how he wants to set a good example going forward. Although he's still going to enjoy his life:
"Everybody is not going to love you," said Richardson. "You love me or hate me. They tried to assassinate my character when I got in trouble back-to-back... I'm still going to be me. I'm still going to enjoy my life."
However the interesting point in the article came when Richardson discussed his future with the team, and as always, his future is seemingly tied with the future of another standout defensive lineman, Muhammad Wilkerson.
"We both understand the situation," Richardson said of the unlikelihood that he and Wilkerson will get big paydays from the Jets. "It's his hometown. If he gets it and I don't — I got one more year left. You never know what happens after that. I wouldn't mind him staying in his own hometown. If I get the boot, then so (be it)... but you never know. Mo's having a Pro Bowl season right now. His resume is going to be a little bit cleaner than mine."
We all know the situation with Wilkerson. He's in the last year of his contract and there will be no negotiations until the off-season. The most likely scenario is that the Jets will put the franchise tag on Mo, and either take that time to work out a new deal, or look to trade him. It's unlikely but not impossible that the Jets can give both players what they want.
The Jets have Richardson signed through 2016, but they can extend him after this season if they choose to. They can also pick up his 5th year option after he's completed his 3rd regular season (which is 2015). The Jets have a lot of decisions to make on their defensive line.
On one hand, Sheldon Richardson's ceiling is probably higher, as Manish comments. However his off-field record to date would indicate that he is the riskier long term investment. He's already had one suspension, and likely will get another following the July arrest. He's a couple of strikes away from missing significant time, so for all his talent, do you take that chance? Or do you invest in your home-town guy. Wilkerson, who's currently enjoying his best season with the Jets, 41 tackles, 7 sacks and 1 forced fumble.
Personally I'd pick up that 5th year option and look to trade Sheldon and sign Wilkerson long term. That's just me, there are plenty who disagree with that view point.