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Jets, Sheldon Richardson off to loud, brooding start

The New York Jets were a mess last season. After going 10-6 in 2015 and nearly making the playoffs, the front office brought back most of the roster and went for another run at the postseason. Instead of getting a better campaign, the wheels fell off.

New York finished 5-11 and, frankly, weren’t even that good. Afterwards, general manager Mike Maccagnon flexed his muscle and jettisoned a bunch of pricey veterans including Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Ryan Clady and others.

On Tuesday, New York began its OTAs with a much younger roster, but not everything was different. Sheldon Richardson, who was the source of many trade rumors throughout the offseason due to his on and off-field issues, sounded off about what has already made the locker room better. Per ESPN:

“The locker room is a whole lot easier to get along with now,” Richardson told reporters. Asked to elaborate, he smiled and said, “Man oh man, y’all are thirsty. Let’s just say I’ve got 15 reasons why it’s better.”

Richardson was talking about the since-departed Marshall, who wore the number 15 with Gang Green. Whether or not Marshall was the proverbial locker room cancer is impossible to know from the outside, but Richardson should start worrying about what he can control, and let the past remain there.

In 2016, Richardson was atrocious. He recorded 1.5 sacks in 15 games, barely earning playing time alongside Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. It was a disappointment to say the least, and with the former University of Missouri star entering the final year of his rookie deal, it’s time to produce or start looking at the real estate market.

The Jets aren’t going to be good this year barring a miracle. New York purposely tore down the team in hopes of playing some younger talent with high upside. The real payoff should come in April, when the Jets can select a franchise quarterback out of a very talented class.

Until then, men like Wilkerson and Richardson have to be the leaders of the team. If there is any chance of being respectable by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the remaining veterans must step up. This includes Richardson, who has to stop seeming so interested in verbal jousting and more interested in playing well. Perhaps he can focus a bit more, and not be on Snapchat so much.

This might be a long season for the Jets, but some real good could come out of the situation for both the long-term health of the franchise and some of its current stars. Richardson, more than any, has a chance to both redeem a reputation and financially sustain himself for a lifetime.

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