Mike Maccagnan’s inability to pull the trigger on a Sheldon Richardson trade is slowly but surely killing the New York Jets defense.
Every day that goes by that sees the New York Jets employ Sheldon Richardson is a lost day. The stubbornness of Mike Maccagnan at this point is beyond confusing.
Two NFL Drafts ago, Mikey Mac and Todd Bowles, working through the regime’s first draft on the job, did the correct thing in graciously accepting the gift that was USC defensive beast Leonard Williams. It was the correct thing even while employing both Muhammad Wilkerson and Richardson.
Possessing all three guys two years later is so incorrect it defies both defensive football and salary cap logic. After doing the right thing in 2015, they’ve done everything wrong since.
No matter the defensive scheme, only two of these three players can see the field at once. Bowles has tried to fit all three in at the same time only to see it thrown back in his face time and again. Richardson’s even tried to line up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme … only to see it hurt his trade value.
In 2016, the two games the Jets defense actually played well, opening week against the Cincinnati Bengals and a few weeks later against the Baltimore Ravens were the two weeks that saw one of the three miss the game.
Coincidence? No. Absolutely not.
When all three play, the integrity of the defense suffers. There’s no proper edge play and the speed element of the defense is drastically compromised. What this does is create a ripple effect through the entire defense, allowing each and every other defender to suffer in his own specific way.
It forces the development of a guy like Darron Lee to suffer.
In Week 1 against the Bengals, Richardson was suspended. Steve McLendon started at nose tackle and Big Mo and Big Cat at both 3-4 defensive ends. Cincy gained 381 yards of total offense and tallied 23 points.
In Week 7 against the Ravens, the Jets came away with their second victory of the season with Big Mo injured. Baltimore gained just 345 yards of total offense and put up 16 points. This was, by far, the team’s best defensive effort of the campaign.
Most of the other 14 games during the season were total disasters from a defensive point of view. At times, Bowles even tinkered with a heavy four-man front that featured all three of the discussed gentlemen plus McLendon.
It failed, miserably, and it’s a shame because three of the four are phenomenal talents.
Therefore, what does that tell you? The Jets are stuck — stuck in a personnel disaster their GM has yet to solve.
Not until the few final games of the season did Bowles finally tinker with Williams at the nose tackle position:
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 22, 2016
Even that look struggled because Williams then suffers at nose tackle. The run defense is hurt because the overall look is too light.
We’ve gone through more game tape about Sheldon playing out of position than we can remember. The tape doesn’t lie. Sheldon’s bosses have killed his value.
ESNY Game Tape Articles on this Situation:
- Week 17 Wasn’t Just Fitz’s Fault
- Richardson Playing Out of Position is Killing the Jets
- Inescapable Evidence Bowles is in Over his Head
Considering all of this, why is Maccagnan still holding out for a proper return on this player?
Richardson is slated to hit the free agency market at the end of the season. Once considered as the favorite to remain in green over Wilkerson, is now the odd-man-out thanks to Big Mo’s big-man contract last August.
Moreover, the character traits we’ve witnessed from Richardson scream anything but “leader to rebuild with.” Spats with Brandon Marshall and asking, “where the b*tches at,” after a loss, don’t exactly leave the other 31 NFL franchises foaming at the mouth for the 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Early Friday, reports circulated that the Jets were still in the market of fielding offers for Richardson. At the same time, those same reports explained Maccagnan wouldn’t give him away.
#Jets have been making calls regarding a potential trade of DL Sheldon Richardson. This was their plan coming in. Won’t give him away, tho
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 28, 2017
The question I have is, “What?!”
The man’s a free agent at the end of the year. Over the last two years, it’s been proven he, Big Cat and Big Mo cannot play together on the same defense, through no fault of their own. Bowles isn’t going to magically come up with a solution this summer. That’s just not going to happen.
So, instead of biting the bullet and offing him for a fifth or sixth round pick, Mike Maccagnan is willing to go through a third year of front seven difficulties because he’s not receiving what he perceives to be fair value for the man?
Not smart, Mike. Not smart at all.
In addition to understanding value, an NFL general manager must be willing to adapt and understand the situation along the way. Maccagnan needs to come to grips with this Sheldon Richardson situation.
- He won’t receive fair value for his talents
- You’re going to lose him at the end of the year
- He’s not a positive character to rebuild with
- He screws up the integrity of the defense and any conditional third-rounder in 2018 isn’t worth sacrificing 16 games of defensive development.
At this point, simply releasing him if a seventh-round pick isn’t offered is the better move. As an NFL GM, biting the bullet is sometimes necessary in order to move forward onto greener pastures.