Sheldon Richardson is still a member of the Jets despite a whirlwind of trade rumors surrounding the 26-year-old defensive lineman.
Richardson shed some light on the trade talk Thursday, telling the New York Daily News interested teams like the Seahawks and Redskins wanted him to take a pay cut before they would pull the trigger on a trade.
“It’s a business, bro,” Richardson said. “There was one team that asked me to take a pay cut … and it was Seattle. And Washington too. There were a lot of offers. A lot of good offers. You’d be surprised.”
Richardson is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract that was heavy on back-end pay. After the Jets selected him with the 13th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, Richardson earned $9.35 million over his first four seasons. He is due $8.069 million for the 2017 season.
Richardson was the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowler in 2014, but thinks teams thought they could “low-ball” him and the Jets because of his off-field incidents. Richardson was suspended the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy after failing a drug test. He was then suspended the first game of the 2016 season for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy following a high-speed police chase west of his native St. Louis.
Jets coach Todd Bowles has said Richardson is now “in a peaceful place.” Richardson said earlier this year the Jets locker room is much better since receiver Brandon Marshall left to sign with the Giants.
Richardson will likely receive a big payday as a coveted free agent next spring. He would like to remain with the Jets and suggested the team keep the defensive line group of himself, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams together, but understands it might not happen.
“That’s their decision,” Richardson told the Daily News. “Would I pay me? I’d pay me… I would, because you can save money in other places with a stout defensive line.
“I play football,” Richardson added. “Been playing it since I was five. No pressure at all… Cashing in means you’re almost done. I’m still grinding. Even if I do get a big deal, I’m still grinding. Some guys do throw the towel (after they get paid)… I’m not going to do that.”