In the wake of the news that Sheldon Richardson, the Jets star defensive lineman has been suspended for the first four games of the NFL season, several fans have asked me if this will effect the Muhammad Wilkerson contract situation. In the answer is, probably not a great deal, but maybe a little.
On the base of it, the Jets won't be clamouring to get the Wilkerson contract done this morning. Regardless of whether Richardson was suspended or not, Wilkerson was always going to be a Jet for the 2015 season. He'll just be playing alongside Leonard Williams instead of Sheldon Richardson for the first four weeks of the season.
Wilkerson needs a new contract and he wants a new contract and everything I understand from the situation indicates the Jets want to get it done, but at the right price. Is Wilkerson going to ask for more because of this? No, I doubt it. Will the Jets be willing to pay more because of this situation? No, I doubt that too. Will the Jets be picking up the phone this morning in desperation? No they won't.
However long term, will this make the Jets consider the defensive line and who to pay on it? Potentially.
Sheldon Richardson is the better player between him and Wilkerson in my opinion. However can the Jets afford to pay both of them lucrative contracts? That's debatable. We of course have Sheldon signed through the 2017 season. However after 2015, he can start talking new contract. Under the CBA you can't negotiate a new contract with a first round pick until after the 3rd season. 2015 will be Sheldon's third season in the league. We all know he's going to want to get paid, he said himself that "We want Suh money".
So this is a dilemma for the Jets. Do you pay Wilkerson, do you pay Richardson, do you try and squeeze in both even though you just spent a first round pick on Leonard Williams?
I don't know how much this incident has affected the thinking in the GM office. If the decision is made that you can only pay one of Wilkerson or Richardson, do you go with the safer pick in Wilkerson, or the brash, loud-mouth immature Richardson who can't seem to stay off the weed. Smoking weed isn't the worst crime in the world, in fact in a lot of places it's not even a crime. However in the NFL it is, and smoking weed regardless of the rules shows an immaturity and a stupidity, and that will count for something whether we like it or not.
Let me just say this right now. The Jets won't do anything anytime soon, because they don't need to. We could have Wilkerson play on his rookie deal this year and slap the tag on him next year. So that's 2 more years of Wilkerson and at a minimum we have 3 more years of Sheldon. However who here honestly thinks that Sheldon is going to play out the next three years of his contract without any hold outs or public shots at the franchise? If you do, you're kidding yourself. I'm willing to bet that as soon as the 2015 season is over, Sheldon is calling for a new "Suh like deal".
The Jets have an important decision to make. They don't have to make it today, they don't even have to make it tomorrow, but at some point they'll absolutely have to.