Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The New York Jets were able to trade up to the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft thanks to an unlikely source.

The New York Jets made history on Saturday morning by trading up to acquire the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft from the Indianapolis Colts.

This was the first time in the Mike Maccagnan era that Gang Green traded up in the first round. What changed in 2018?

Well, the pressure cooker got turned up with the Jets missing the playoffs for the seventh straight year last season. Mediocrity will no longer be accepted, especially when there’s seemingly no hope for the future.

The Jets haven’t had a franchise quarterback in 50 years, so the team finally decided to do something to try and change that. So they consummated a trade with the Colts on Saturday, but that wasn’t when the first discussions began.

It actually all started before the 2017 season began. Former first-round pick Sheldon Richardson, while immensely talented, was a bit of a problem child. With an uneven track record and entering a contract year, it was obvious the Jets were willing to part ways with him—for a reasonable price.

Right before the season got kicked off, the Jets got the offer of a lifetime from the Seattle Seahawks. They were willing to part with a 2018 second-round pick and what was thought to be a no name wide receiver, Jermaine Kearse, for a player the Jets had no interest in keeping.

Kearse alone would’ve made this a sensible deal for the Jets. He ended up having a career-year statistically, catching 65 passes for 810 yards and five touchdowns while bringing a much-needed veteran presence to the Jets receiving corps. But Maccagnan got that key additional second-round draft choice.

From people I spoke with, the Jets were going to be lucky to get a fourth or fifth-round pick for Richardson. Not due to a lack of talent, but because of that aforementioned shaky track record. One more violation and Richardson likely would be suspended for an entire season.

Richardson ended up being one-and-done in Seattle, signing with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason. In hindsight, this looks like a horrible trade on the Seahawks’ end. But for the Jets, that extra second-round pick which they eventually used to trade up with the Colts, was a difference maker.

Without that additional draft compensation, the Jets would’ve likely had to forfeit over their 2019 first-round draft pick. Or worse, they may have missed out on the deal completely.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard revealed how important the sixth overall pick and the treasure trove of second-round picks they got in the deal from the Jets were.

Who would’ve thought that a former Jets star, one who is most remembered not for his play on the field, but for driving over 100 miles an hour, with a loaded gun, an endangered child, and the aura of marijuana in his car, would’ve been the key to the Jets landing their next franchise quarterback?

On behalf of Jets fans everywhere, I want to give a heartfelt thank you to Sheldon Richardson. Without you, the team would be still stuck in the quarterback purgatory the Jets have been in for the last half century.

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