Sheldon Richardson's Contract Option Picked Up by Jets

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson responds to questions during a news interview after practice at training camp, Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The New York Jets doubled down on their commitment to defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson on Monday, as they announced they picked up the fifth-year option in his contract. 

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News first reported the news on April 18, indicating Richardson will make about $8 million in 2017. CBS Sports' Joel Corry reported it is for $8.069 million.

Richardson, a 2014 Pro Bowler and the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year, is coming off a tumultuous 2015. The NFL suspended him four games for marijuana use in July 2015, an event that was followed two weeks later by a high-speed chase that allegedly saw him exceed 100 mph in Missouri.

The police report indicated that Richardson, who was traveling with two companions and a 12-year-old child, sped off when officers tried pulling him over on a routine traffic stop. He was later pulled over in a neighbor's driveway. Police allege there was a strong smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle, and there was a handgun under the driver's side seat.

Richardson told reporters in July 2015 following the incident: 

I’m not a dope fiend, man. I can say no. I just chose not to. It was a depressing time in my offseason and that’s just that. It’s just that simple, bro. ... Just a little disappointed and embarrassed for my parents’ sake. NFL guys mess up, the world knows about it. Pretty much my family goes through a lot. People don’t know how to talk to ‘em at work anymore. Little things like that, they get to me because I put my family before myself and this team.

Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in the case in January, avoiding jail time in exchange for probation and community service. He may still be subject to discipline from the league office.

Despite the off-field issues, Richardson remains one of the Jets' best defensive players. He posted 35 tackles and five sacks last season under head coach Todd Bowles, lining up all over the defensive front seven—even spending time at linebacker.

"There's nothing to it," Richardson said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. "It's not an obstacle. Guys put limits on themselves. I put none on myself. Just give me my reps, and I should be fine by game day."

Possibly a $100 million player had he hit free agency without off-field problems, Richardson is now in wait-and-see mode. The Jets undoubtedly view him as part of their long-term plans, but he's going to have to prove he can stay out of trouble. If he can keep his nose clean for the entire 2016 campaign, a long-term deal will likely be coming.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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