According to the NY Daily News and Jets reporter Manish Mehta, the Jets are interested in bringing back DL Sheldon Richardson this offseason. Richardson was traded from the Jets to the Seahawks nine days before the start of the 2017 regular season for a second-round pick and WR Jermaine Kearse.
Does a reunion make sense?
Richardson, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent come the offseason, has reportedly expressed interest in returning to New York. The Jets could use his athleticism if they indeed do let troublesome Muhammad Wilkerson walk.
But they’ll have to be weary of his asking price. While Richardson still presents himself as a young and threatening defensive playmaker, the fifth year DL hasn’t been exceptional the past two years. In his last season with the Jets, he recorded 62 tackles and 1.5 sacks. This year with Seattle has been similar, totaling 37 tackles, a sack and an interception. Nothing too eye opening or worth paying a steep price for.
But if and when the Jets let former standout defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson go, a replacement will certainly be on their radar. It will also be a point of interest for Bowles and company to acquire as many game-changing assets as possible this offseason.
Richardson could bring that to the table. In his four previous seasons in New York, the team used him in a variety of ways, including outside linebacker, where he saw some minor success. Richardson would also provide uncanny support for the developing defense in the wake of what will likely be a make-or-break 2018.
Hold Your Horses
While a reunion may sound like an ingenious move by Mike Maccgnan, all aspects should be analyzed fully. Sure, seeing as how the Jets will have basically grabbed a free second-round pick and a dynamic receiver from the Seahawks for a one-year rental of Richardson, the move could be hit or miss.
Part of the reason the Jets moved on from Richardson in the first place was due to his off the field issues. A slew of arrests and charges made the young talent a locker room distraction. The Jets felt as though he could not take on the leader role they had asked of him. They also felt that he would be a road block in their shift towards young development. Seattle seemed like the right fit for both sides. Allowing Richardson to be a part of a team full of Super Bowl vets would help the troublesome DL grow up.
But bringing Richardson back this offseason would mean that the Jets have assumed he has changed. As a team looking to rebuild, they would lean on him heavily to be a supporting piece. And while Richardson has managed to stay out of the headlines for the better this year, it would be a gamble to expect that one year away from the team changed his mindset.
But the good may outweigh the bad. A possible reunion with Richardson may allow the rebuilding phase to be accelerated. He would come back to a defensive scheme that already knows him very well. He could fill in for the supposed leader of Wilkerson and have the opportunity to relinquish his skill set. And with over $80 million in potential cap space this offseason, the Jets could limit their risks by re-signing Richardson. He was once (and not very long ago) a key building block for the franchise. Unfamiliarity would be a non-factor.
Place Your Bets
So when the offseason comes, the Jets should expect to have some time cut out to revisit Richardson. While he will more than likely test free agent waters elsewhere, the Jets should keep an eye on him. He could very well be a potential piece to a prosperous future for New York. The Jets will just need to play their cards right.