The Jets picked up Sheldon Richardson’s fifth-year option, but they chose not to do the same for his 2013 draft-mate Dee Milliner.
Exercising Richardson’s option (roughly around $8 million) ahead of Monday’s deadline was an obvious move considering his talent level and versatility. Since being selected 13th overall three years ago, the defensive tackle has tallied 16.5 sacks and 180 tackles. The Jets also took advantage of his skill set last season by lining up Richardson as an outside linebacker.
But Richardson’s NFL career hasn’t been entirely spotless.
He served a four-game suspension last year for violating the league’s substance abuse program. He also was arrested last summer following a high-speed chase in his home state of Missouri. Richardson, who avoided jail time after entering a guilty plea to reduced charges stemming from that July 2015 arrest, was sentenced to two years of bench probation.
But there’s a chance Richardson could still face a second suspension from the NFL for violating their personal conduct policy.
Milliner, on the other hand, has been a disappointment so far because of injuries. Taken ninth overall after the Jets traded Darrelle Revis in 2013, the former Alabama cornerback has played in 21 games, including five as a rookie and only three in 2014. He has three interceptions and 19 passes defensed.
Milliner was placed on short-term injured reserve after undergoing wrist surgery in training camp last year and was activated on Nov. 11.
General manager Mike Maccagnan cited Milliner’s injury history and limited playing time as the reasons behind their decision.
“Dee . . . is a bit of a wild card — and not in a bad way,” he said during an interview Monday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN radio.
“And we’ll see how he does. This is going to be a big offseason for him . . . I think because of the body of work, we decided it was kind of beneficial for both sides [not to pick up his option]. If Dee goes out and plays well, we have the ability to potentially try to negotiate a contract and sign him. And, of course, being a player, not having the option tag picked up, he can play this season and hit free agency if he wants.”