INDIANAPOLIS – This week’s NFL Scouting Combine is not just about college prospects. This is also the time for general managers to chat with each other, teams to talk to agents and free agency and trade conversations to begin.
For the Jets, this should be the week general manager Mike Maccagnan officially puts defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. The team tried to trade Richardson at the trade deadline last season, but did not find a package they liked.
Now, it’s time to make a deal.
The Jets won’t admit it publicly, of course, but they would love to trade Richardson before April’s NFL Draft and gain another draft pick. The problem for the Jets is Richardson’s value has plummeted.
There is no denying Richardson is an immense talent, but he had only 1 ½ sacks last season, has been suspended to start each of the past two years, fought with teammate Brandon Marshall last season and was benched for being late repeatedly. That is not exactly the type of player teams will be lining up for.
The Jets reportedly sought a first-round pick for Richardson last October. They need to forget that. Richardson might fetch a third- or fourth-round pick.
The question then becomes how desperate the Jets are to rid themselves of Richardson, who is due $8.1 million this season before becoming a free agent in 2018.
The Jets locked up Muhammad Wilkerson last year to a five-year, $86 million deal and have Leonard Williams entering his third season as a player on the rise. Playing the three of them together did not work well in 2016. That, combined with Richardson’s antics, which the Jets are tired of, makes him the one on the trading block.
It is something Richardson acknowledged last season after his name surfaced in trade rumors at the deadline.
“Big business, bro,” Richardson said. “It happens. That’s it. We’ve got three guys that play the same position. We’re all effective. It’s a surplus, so I’m the odd man out.”
The Jets’ one strength is its defensive line. They can now use that strength to acquire another asset in a draft pick.
Maccagnan surely will let teams know this week that Richardson is available. The question then becomes: Will he find any takers?
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