New York Jets superstar defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has disappointed many with the news that he’ll be suspended four-games in 2015.
By Robby Sabo
When New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan selected USC’s Leonard Williams with the No. 6 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft two-months ago, two overwhelming thoughts came over the general public.
One was the certainty that this nasty defense on paper just got a little better. The other was the quandary this choice put head coach Todd Bowles in.
Now, Bowles has no such headache.
On Thursday, Richardson was suspended for four-games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) July 2, 2015
He wasn’t alone in the matter either:
Almost immediately after news of the suspension came down, Richardson released a statement apologizing for his actions and taking full responsibility:
Statement from Jets DL Sheldon Richardson ON HOS 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. pic.twitter.com/ygqdCgJ63G
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) July 2, 2015
Sadly, what this suspension means is not that Richardson was caught smoking marijuana, it’s that he was caught three-times.
The new NFL policy for substance abuse that was passed early during the 2014 season, created a system that allowed for a three-strikes system. This means Richardson knew the next time he was caught with a positive marijuana test he’d surely be suspended four-games.
Yet, during a time of relaxation after mini-camp and prior to training-camp, he couldn’t resist.
I vow to you, this will not happen again. My team will continue to push forward without me to start the season. — Sheldon Richardson (@Godforshort) July 2, 2015
The new three-strikes system is exactly why – despite Richardson’s phenomenal apology and fantastic words about vowing it never happening again – it’s hard to believe him at this point.
The absence of Richardson is not only disappointing for himself, but for a collection of defensive talent that was looking to make a name for itself early in the season.
Acquisitions such as Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist and Leonard Williams put this unit on another level of nasty. For now, Williams will have to fill the void of the 2013 NFL Rookie of the Year.
Another interesting aspect lost in all of this is the notion that Wilkerson seemed to be the odd-man out on the defensive line.
Playing on the last deal of his rookie contract, Big-Mo made some headlines. He made it very clear he was unhappy about his current deal and wanted a fresh one prior to 2015. After the drafting of Williams, it seemed the Jets had found Wilkerson’s fallback option should anything go array.
Now, with the certain trust issues the front office and coaching staff might have with Richardson, the Jets world suddenly turns upside down. In a hard salary-cap world, it is almost an impossibility to pay three stud 3-4 defensive-ends in such a system. It simply takes up too much of the salary cap for only two-starting spots.
Many that know him or feel to know what type of person he is truly believes he is genuine in his apology. He might actually feel worse than anybody right now about this entire situation.
Still, despite the disappointing feelings his teammates, coaches and fans are currently experiencing, Richardson might end up the one paying the biggest price in the end.
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