The New York Jets defense will be starting 2015 in the hole. Sheldon Richardson was handed a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug use policy which leaves a big gap in the defensive line for the Jets. Considering this is not Richardson's first run-in with this issue, the suspension reaches four games and New York is left replacing their leader of the line.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, the suspension of Richardson draws in the draft luck of Leonard Williams and the non-trade of Muhammad Wilkerson. Both players are expected to be critical to the team in the first four games. Richardson will miss the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, a heated game against Indianapolis, a game against the Eagles and a divisional game against Miami. Considering Richardson had eight sacks last season, the best of anyone on the Jets, the team is at a big loss.
Williams will step in and likely be an immediate starter for Todd Bowles. According to the New York Daily News, the rookie has impressed so far in practices thanks to the hold out from Wilkerson. Williams has been getting first-team reps for the most part and that will likely continue. The draft luck for the Jets is now in focus as Williams was not even expected to be around when New York was selecting. However, the team is likely thankful now.
The suspension of Richardson could greatly help Wilkerson this season as he lobby's for a new contract. With Richardson out, Wilkerson is guaranteed plenty of playing time. That could help him in the long-term if he plays well. Wilkerson wants the spotlight and the opportunity to make plays and with Richardson out he is expected to step up and take his place.
Meanwhile on offense, Geno Smith is hoping that he too makes the right plays in order to put himself in a better position for a contract. While no one is thinking about a contract for the quarterback, he is on thin ice and needing to show major improvements this season. That will all start in Chicago where Smith and the receivers are reportedly working out. According to ESPN.com, Smith confirmed that he and Brandon Marshall along with other wide receivers will be in Chicago since Marshall has new-born twins. Smith is in a battle with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty for the short-term while needing to secure his spot for the long-term.
"I'll probably be the only [quarterback] there,'' Smith said, via the New York Post. "It's welcome to anyone who wants to come. It's not like I'm barring them from coming. If they want to they can be there too.''