Sheldon Richardson’s time with the New York Jets has come to an end.
The Jets have traded Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. There were multiple reports speculating that a trade was occurring. ESPN’s Adam Schefter officially reported the Jets were trading Richardson for Kearse and Seattle’s 2018 second-round pick. The teams will also swap seventh-round selections, according to Schefter. The MMQB’s Albert Breer reported New York’s second-round pick is conditional and could become a third.
Kearse joined Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and has recorded 153 career receptions for 2,109 yards and 11 touchdowns in five professional seasons. Kearse joins the Jets as the most accomplished receiver on the roster, which isn’t exactly saying much. Kearse finished tied for third on Seattle’s roster with 41 receptions for 510 yards and 1 touchdown. Robby Anderson is New York’s top returning receiver (Quincy Enunwa is out for the year with a neck injury) after catching 42 passes for 587 yards and 2 touchdowns as an undrafted rookie.
The Jets have been shopping Richardson around since last year’s trade deadline, but haven’t been able to find a trade partner until now. Richardson’s impressive preseason might have helped the Jets get a deal done now. He posted a sack during the third preseason game against the Giants and has been one of the standouts throughout exhibition play. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports this trade between the Jets and the Seahawks has been in the works for a couple of weeks.
The 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year has recorded 298 total tackles and 18 sacks, has forced six fumbles and recovered three fumbles during his four-year career. The Jets took Richardson with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, a pick they received as compensation from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Darrelle Revis trade.
Richardson starred during his first two seasons, recording 11.5 combined sacks. But he fell out of favor with the franchise for a couple of reasons. Richardson’s off-field transgressions might have hurt his standing the most. he was suspended the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and was suspended for the 2016 opener as a result of a street-racing incident that summer.
Richardson’s fate in New York was likely sealed after the Jets drafted Leonard Williams sixth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. It was cemented when the team signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year contract extension last summer.
Richardson is coming off of his worst professional season, during which he recorded 1.5 sacks in 15 games. The Seahawks might be interested in Richardson as a long-term piece along their already formidable defense. The Missouri product is entering the final year of his rookie contract after the Jets exercised his fifth-year option.
The Jets most likely weren’t going to keep Richardson on the roster beyond 2017. They’ve chosen to build the defensive front around Williams and Wilkerson, even though Richardson still might possess the most upside as a pass rusher. However, there wasn’t room for three defensive linemen on the roster going forward and the Jets were wise to get something for Richardson while they still had the chance.
Of course, this only further demonstrates the theory the Jets are tanking the 2017 campaign after an offseason that saw almost every useful player older than 24 years old get shoved out the door. Richardson is just the latest casualty as the Jets reboot the roster.