It's no secret that the Jets have been trying to trade Sheldon Richardson for a while now. The maligned defensive tackle is about to enter the 5th year of his rookie contract, and he'll earn over $8 million in 2017 as well.
You can't question the talent that Sheldon has at his disposal. However you also can't question that he's a very immature individual. He's had two suspensions already despite only playing 4 years in the NFL. He's been benched for missing team meetings and he's made several distracting comments. Earlier this week he took an immature cheap shot at departing receiver Brandon Marshall, who in turn took the high road and ignored the jab.
However this isn't just about his off-field issues and maturity concerns. He's also experienced a continual decline in his production. We all appreciate that some aspects of performance do not translate to the stat sheet, and that's especially true for defensive lineman. I'm not disputing that, but Sheldon went from 8 sacks in 2014, to 5 sacks in 2015 and just 1.5 sacks last year.
Many of his supporters say that the lack of production came as a result of him playing at outside linebacker and being played out of his natural position. Thanks to Rich Cimini we can see that although he did spend time at outside linebacker, this excuse is largely overblown. Sheldon himself seems to believe this:
"I haven't played [the 3-technique] for a whole year since I went to the Pro Bowl, so just put a light on that,"
Well according to Cimini and his ESPN stat team (and coach Bowles), Richardson played 618 of his 736 total snaps on the defensive line, which means he played 88% of his snaps at his natural position. He just underperformed in certain areas, but you didn't expect him to admit that did you.
Now you can't say how many of those 618 snaps came as a 3-tech unless you go back and watch all the games and track the positional change on each snap, and even in the off-season we don't really have time for that. However coach Bowles had this to say:
"He played 3-technique last year. He didn’t play outside linebacker for two years. He played his position last year."
So he's coming off a poor year. He's coming into a contract year, there's surely motivation to prove that the 2014 season wasn't a fluke, and that he can produce on a consistent basis. Not for Sheldon, he doesn't believe he has anything to prove.
"I'm proven, honestly," he said. "I just have to get more stats. It's my contract year."
The Jets have attempted to move Sheldon and have tried talking the Colts, Seahawks and Bucs into making it happen, but as of today there doesn't seem to be any movement there. It would be a shock to see the Jets pay Sheldon and depending on what the Jets do themselves in free agency next year, they could lose him for nothing, which is always hard to accept for a 1st round draft choice.
It's hardly a surprise to hear that teams are unwilling to trade for Sheldon. He's had two suspensions, he's not produced recently and he seemingly has an attitude problem. Would you want to bring that into your clubhouse? I know I wouldn't.