Is it time for the Jets to trade Sheldon Richardson?
SNY.tv's Brian Bassett and Bent discuss...
The Jets got their second win last Sunday over the Ravens and might slip the surly bonds of two wins with a Week 8 matchup against the Browns. So with the potential of being 3-5 after eight weeks is it already time to start breaking up the dynasty?
There's been some discussion this week about who the Jets' most tradable player is, and ESPN's Rich Cimini suggested Sheldon Richardson as a potential target for acquisition by other teams.
Bent, I see why he might be an obvious target. The Jets just signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a fat new contract and they drafted Leonard Williams 18 months ago. But would the Jets get anything near what he is worth on the market by moving a player of Richardson's quality? And would it be smart to do so right before what might be his most productive years as an NFLer, during which NFL teams "coincidentally" always have contractual control over their players via option years and tags?
Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
There's two aspects to consider here: the short term and the medium-to-long term. If you think the season is lost, then cashing in some of your valuable chips has no immediate downside and can save you money and improve your draft positioning -- both in terms of picks acquired and also because it increases your chances of losing more games.
However, if you view Richardson -- or any other player who may or may not be on the table -- as part of your future, then the downside of giving him up for something of less value than he has the potential to be should override the temptation for a quick haul.
Richardson is an interesting case because, as good as he is, he's arguably not yet realized his full potential. With Leonard Williams making strides in his second season and the Jets already financially committed to Muhammad Wilkerson, it's possible Richardson could be the odd man out on the defensive line. However, when you also consider his pending contract renegotiation and his off-field issues over the past few seasons, it's not going to be easy to obtain full value for him. If they are going to trade him and get back an ideal return, is now the optimal time? I doubt it.
I think you spelled it out perfectly. While there are plenty of extenuating circumstances that indicate Richardson makes sense, if I am the GM of this team I wouldn't move him now because he's not at peak value. Despite Richardson playing out of his natural position (and thus the lack of production) and despite his staying clean since his suspensions, his Death Star (of Value!) is not yet fully operational. Trading him now would be short-sighted.
My podcasting man Corey Griffin put this idea out on Twitter, which I vehemently oppose.
If I were Macc I'd try to get anything better than a 5th-round pick from Wilkerson all offseason. Take the PR hit & build around Sheldon/Leo- Corey Griffin (@CoreyGriffinNBC) October 26, 2016
Beyond total bewilderment, I might need your help explaining why I have such a violent and visceral reaction to such a notion.
While I don't think the Jets are packing it up just yet on the 2016 season, we're pretty close to closing time and not even halfway through the season. With the trade deadline getting closer, are there players who might make more sense for other teams to consider acquiring?
As crazy as it sounds, Bilal Powell might be one I'd consider moving even though running backs come cheap these days. Breno Giacomini might be another player to consider moving assuming he could pass a physical. Anyone else come to mind for you?
Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
I don't think the team has any intentions of making such a move, although perhaps a loss on Sunday would lead to a firesale. Unfortunately, they have very few assets that would generate much in terms of a return. The real value to be gained here would be in terms of cap savings. They could theoretically achieve that by moving a player who might not be in their plans next season, but I'm not sure the likes of Nick Mangold, David Harris or even Darrelle Revis fall into that category yet.
The one guy who might bring back a pick, should attract interest and would save the Jets money in the event they went down this route might be Brandon Marshall. But like I said, I can't see this happening right now.
As for Corey's idea, I think they've made a commitment to Wilkerson now and you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. Trading him at the end of the season would mean they've spent $22 million for one year of production (or, if you prefer, $34 million for a year of Fitzpatrick and Wilkerson), at a time when cap space was tight. "Anything more than a 5th" would be difficult to swallow too. Leaving aside the fact that I dispute the idea that Richardson is the better player, the idea that the team is better off without Wilkerson is a bit of a leap based on some minor improvements against a struggling team.
While the team played its two best games defensively with one of their Big Three inactive, the narrative that these are the only games where they've been able to generate a pass rush is statistically inaccurate and appears to be based on warped perception.
While they hardly generated any pressure in the Steelers game -- in which Bowles blitzed fewer times than he ever has before -- their total number of pressures in each of the other games: 17, 15, 12, 17, 21, 15. Lorenzo Mauldin provided a spark because Richardson moving onto the line freed up more reps for him, but Richardson's production was no better than a healthy Wilkerson typically provides on a week-by-week basis. So maybe Sunday's game showed Richardson could be expendable after all. Just not right now.
So at this point it sounds like the Jets are "stuck" but I don't like the connotation of that word. Maybe "mid-stream" is better, as their players don't have the value that makes sense on the market. But as I reflect, it seems that very few NFL players who are traded for draft picks ever come close to returning proper value to the team initiating the trade.
Anyway, it's clear from our discussion that the way forward doesn't seem to be a fire sale. The Jets have talented players, albeit maybe overly concentrated in a few areas. But that their future plan must be more about finding talented players in areas of weakness, even if that means diverging from a simple "best player available" draft strategy.
The schedule for the Jets' offense gets cake-walk easy for most of the remainder of the season, so all the doom and gloom that has permeated the team over the first seven weeks might dissipate quickly. As I see it, let the best players play and see where the team finishes the season. They can then move on with a better plan to fill the gaps as the coaches, scouts and front office come up with their plan for 2017.