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Coffee with the Jets: Wilkerson vs. Richardson in 2018

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Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) celebrates with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) after a sack against Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) celebrates with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) after a sack against Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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A loyal reader asks what happens after the upcoming season is over if Muhammad Wilkerson has a bad year but Sheldon Richardson returns to his dominating ways with the New York Jets? Time to analyze over an iced coffee.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I’d like to say thanks to every single person that represents this beautiful country of ours that serves in the Armed Forces. On that note, the first week of organized team activities is in the books for the New York Jets. Aside from the usual light workouts and exercises, the Jets are enjoying getting many ready for training camp.

In case you didn’t know, my Coffee with the Jets series asks loyal readers to submit questions to ask me anything regarding the franchise. It’s a fun series for me since I love talking football with readers over a nice hot cup of coffee. Of course, the weather sure is heating up in the city that never sleeps so today is looking more like an iced cup of coffee instead.

Today’s question comes from my personal account on Twitter by Good Night da Lights. Interesting name there as here’s the question:

@LTJ81 @TheJetPress If shell has a bounce back yr and wilk struggles, any chance #NYJ get out of his contract and sign shell? #NYJets

— Good Night da Lights (@Estevan_NYC) May 26, 2017

Great question as I thank you for it! It’s hard to tell how the defense of the Jets will perform this upcoming season. Last year, they left much to the imagination and didn’t bring the aggression everyone saw back in 2015.

Defensive ends Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, when working together and being consistent, can truly be a force to reckon with. Last year, Wilkerson played through injuries as it seemed the Jets rushed him back too soon. Richardson had an off year due to his off-the-field distractions and was disciplined a few times by the Jets as well.

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Considering it’s a contract year for Richardson, expect to see him put up some monster stats, or at least work much harder than he did last season. It’s no secret the Jets have been trying to shop him around via trade since last year but most teams don’t want to deal with his distractions.

The same can be said about Wilkerson who will want to silence his critics that he declined big time after getting his massive contract extension. As mentioned earlier, Wilkerson admirably played hurt for the majority of 2016 and should be back to his solid ways after properly healing up.

Now, if Richardson has a huge season and Wilkerson struggles, in my opinion, the Jets would lean more heavily towards Wilkerson in the grand scheme of things. Wilkerson’s character and leadership on and off the field are light years ahead of Richardson. In that scenario, the Jets would stick with Wilkerson over Richardson due to fewer headaches.

It would have to take Wilkerson getting hurt again and missing the entire season for the Jets to consider getting out of his contract and recouping the money they invested in him. Overall, I don’t see that happening as Wilkerson will return to his high standard of play this upcoming season. Even if Richardson has a big year, the Jets will more than likely end up trading him to a team that’s willing to bring him into the mix regardless of all the baggage he brings. If anything, the Jets would hope Richardson does exceed expectations to gather a bigger interest by teams willing to trade for him.

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