Ex-Jets First Rounder Is Among ‘Biggest Upside’ Free Agents Left

Sheldon Richardson, Jets

Getty Former New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson celebrating after a big play.

Every NFL team is allowed to have up to 90 men on their rosters heading into training camp.

That means over 2,880 players will be employed but despite that, there is still some juicy talent left available on the free-agent market even beyond those guys.

That of course includes a very talented former member of the New York Jets.

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Still a Big Time Player

In a recent column for Bleacher Report, Alex Ballentine revealed the seven biggest upside-free agents that are somehow still available at this point of the offseason.

Former Jets first-round pick Sheldon Richardson cracked the list:

“Finding a defensive tackle who can play well against the run while providing some pass rush up the middle isn’t easy. Sheldon Richardson is one of the few options that fit that mold.”

Since 2016 the 31-year-old has played for four different NFL organizations including the Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, and two separate stints with the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite his mercenary status, Richardson has been incredibly durable throughout his career. He has played in 138 out of a possible 145 games in his nine-year NFL career.

A Potential Reunion?

Could Richardson return to the green and white?

Back in February Rich Cimini who covers the Jets for ESPN said he could potentially see the team swapping out Richardson for Sheldon Rankins.

Although back in March the Jets partially guaranteed a portion of Rankins’ contract, which likely ensures his place on the final 53-man roster.

While that was the caveat for this potential partnership from Cimini, the Jets could still use a proven defensive tackle in their system.

For the majority of Richardson’s career, he has been an absolute stud against the run, per PFF’s run defense analytics.

On top of his ability to clog the lanes, the former Missouri product is also a dynamic pass rusher:

  • 105 quarterback hits
  • 33.5 sacks
  • 64 tackles for loss

At this stage of his career, he isn’t a full-time player anymore but that shouldn’t matter because that isn’t what the Jets are looking for.

They really need a veteran presence that can help replace some of what Foley Fatukasi brought to the table as a run defender. Based on the advanced metrics Richardson would be a natural fit for what the Jets need and would allow the big man to return to his old stomping grounds.

Richardson originally entered the league as the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. He quickly became a star in New York winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award under Rex Ryan’s tutelage.

While there was certainly some drama during Richardson’s stay here featuring locker room brawls and off-the-field issues, he always brought the energy to the football field and was a playmaker.

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