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Jets lucked out with Sheldon Richardson

Jul 30, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) answers questions from media about his substance abuse suspension during first day of training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) answers questions from media about his substance abuse suspension during first day of training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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For the New York Jets since Sheldon Richardson’s offseason incident last year, it seemed inevitable he’d get penalized by the NFL. We learned recently that wasn’t necessarily the case.

It seemed like a foregone conclusion that New York Jets’ star Sheldon Richardson was destined for a lengthy suspension following his antics last summer. For those of you who don’t remember, Richardson was involved allegedly in a drag race in which he was driving a speeding vehicle, with the scent of marijuana in the car, a series of loaded guns were also in the vehicle,  all the while a child was in the back seat.

Related Story: 2015 Spotlight: Sheldon Richardson

Richardson avoided jail time by entering a guilty plea (for resisting arrest) and getting two years probation. Last season, Richardson was suspended for the first four games for a marijuana violation.

Here was the official word we got from the Media Relations Department of the Jets via an NFL Spokesperson:

Richardson will be eligible to return to the Jets’ active roster on Monday, September 12 following the team’s September 11 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Richardson is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.

The thought process has been that Richardson would receive a suspension that would keep him out for a significant portion of the 2016 season. Head coach Todd Bowles was asked several weeks ago if he anticipates Richardson being out there Week 1:

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On Richardson playing week one…

Right now we’re just preparing for him to be on the field.

Richardson will miss the season opener and that’s it, the Jets couldn’t have hoped for a better situation.

Especially if you consider the Muhammad Wilkerson situation, his position of negotiation power has at the very least diminished somewhat with this news.

If Richardson lets say was suspended for eight games, the Jets could’ve been in some serious trouble. Which would’ve made Wilkerson reconsider his stance on whether he’d skip training camp at the end of July, to perhaps force the hand of the Jets.

Although the deadline for the Jets and Wilkerson to agree on a long-term extension has to be done by July 15th or else Wilkerson will have to play on the tag, here’s some of the Twitter reaction from around the league after the Richardson suspension:

Jets must be thrilled Sheldon only got one game. Could not have worked out much better for them #NYJ

— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) June 30, 2016

Sheldon Richardson suspension not nearly as bad as it could have been. NYJ made out good here

— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) June 30, 2016

Sheldon got a one game suspension….all things considered, not bad #NYJ

— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) June 30, 2016

Not bad indeed, what have the recent suspensions been in the NFL? Well, last season there was an array per usual, but is there a pattern?

You can see all of the 2015 suspensions here at Pro Football Talk’s live tracker. The typical substance abuse suspension has been four games (exactly what Richardson received last season).

The problem is it’s vague, “NFL Personal Conduct Policy”, a ton of stuff falls into that category. Last season, Greg Hardy got originally suspended for 10 games and it got reduced.

The problem for the league is that Richardson’s specific offense is unmarked territory for the league. But while the Jets and Richardson got lucky this time, next time they may not be so lucky.

If Richardson gets into another incident, it’ll be his third violation of the NFL’s conduct policy, and the third time won’t be the charm. You can check out the full PDF of the NFL’s Conduct Policy which is available here, but the most important piece is this tidbit on repeat offenders:

“With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an enhanced and/or expedited basis. In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined by the Commissioner based on several factors including but not limited to: the severity of the initial charge and later charge; the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee’s compliance with counseling and other programs. Following a full investigation and/or resolution of the proceedings, the Commissioner will review the matter and make any appropriate adjustments.”

So working your way through all the technological terms, the gist of what this says is that Richardson could be up for a year-long suspension next, if he continues to screw up.

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From all accounts, Richardson appears to be a changed man and seems willing to learn from his past mistakes. With these past offenses, the NFL and the Jets will be keeping a closer eye on Richardson’s activities.

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