Jets Trying to Figure Out How to Replace Richardson

During the offseason, when the New York Jets were getting rid of some of their most talented players, the organization denied they were tanking to get the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Last week, after trading defensive end Sheldon Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks, for Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 second round pick, the Jets are not really fooling anyone anymore.

Thanks to the team purging its roster, online game odds for the Jets will be terrible this year, because they are expected to lose most of the games they play.

Richardson’s former teammate Muhammad Wilkerson said he was taking a nap when his phone went off, letting him know Richardson had been traded. Wilkerson already went through the same thing last season when his friend and teammate Damon Harrison left the Jets to sign with the New York Giants.

Now that Richardson is gone, Wilkerson is the only remaining prominent defensive lineman from last season.

While some players might get upset about their team getting rid of talented players, Wilkerson just sees it as part of the business.

Last season, Richardson has a bad year, with only 1.5 sacks, so it makes a lot of sense that the Jets would move him and his big salary in favor of someone perhaps more productive and definitely less expensive. However, since Richardson was particularly disruptive against the run, it will be a difficult task to replace him.

After the trade, head coach Todd Bowles said the Jets have a lot of depth on the defensive line and he feels it is the deepest position on their roster. While acknowledging it will not be easy to replace Richardson, he believes players like Mike Pennel and Claude Pelon will step up.

New York currently has six defensive linemen on the roster, Pennel and Steve McLendon are nose tackles, while Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and Pelon can play both tackle and the defensive end position.

Newly acquired Kony Ealy is the player perhaps best suited to play defensive end.

Last season, Wilkerson and Williams had a very heavy workload, playing 818 and 866 snaps respectively. Neither player can realistically be asked to do even more than they did last year, which means they will likely rely on backups to pick up the slack like Bowles stated. The team might also be forced to stop using the 4-3 system and switch to the 3-4 scheme.

McLendon, who played with Richardson last season, said it was sad to lose a player of that caliber, but felt the loss will not affect the defensive line’s production.

McLendon noted that the Jets probably have more talent than a lot of other teams in the league, but those teams are more disciplined, which is something he believes the Jets need to work on.

Even though McLendon feels the Jets are still very talented, that does not appear to be the case. The team just got rid of a 26-year-old Pro Bowl defensive lineman for a receiver and future pick.

When asked what he thinks of the direction of the team, Wilkerson told reporters to go ask team management. He added that all he does is play football.