Report: Jets want to bring back Sheldon Richardson, ditch Muhammad Wilkerson
The New York Jets are almost certainly planning to part ways with defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson this offseason, and they are reportedly eyeing a very familiar face to help replace the former first-round pick.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is reporting that the Jets are interested in bringing back defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this winter. Despite some of the issues the Jets had with Richardson in the past, sources told Mehta the interest is mutual and Richardson would “love” to return to New York.
The Jets traded Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks before the season, and they got wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick in return. Kearse has been surprisingly productive this season, catching 55 passes for 709 yards and five touchdowns, which are all career-highs.
Richardson is coming off a down season in Seattle, but he is just 27 and will be one of the top players on the free agent market. However, the Jets are expected to have as much as $80 million in salary cap space this offseason, and they would basically have gotten a free receiver and second-round pick for renting out Richardson for one season.
Richardson and Wilkerson have been lumped together in years past as two players who lack dedication to the team, but Jets head coach Todd Bowles apparently would still feel comfortable with having Richardson be a veteran leader in his locker room. Most of the issues Richardson had in 2016 centered on his feud with Brandon Marshall, who is no longer with the team.
Wilkerson was not permitted to travel with the Jets to New Orleans last week after he violated team rules, and it would not be a surprise if he is inactive for the final two games of the season. His $16.75 million base salary for 2018 is guaranteed only for injury, and the Jets can save all of that money if they cut him before the third day of the new league year in March.