Last October, the New York Jets really did call the Dallas Cowboys about a trade involving defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. We reported at the time that the talks never gained traction for two major reasons:
a) Richardson, as talented as he is when he decides to fire up his motor, is a headache employee.
It’s true that the Cowboys have struggled to find an individual pass-rush star. Greg Hardy. DeMarcus Lawrence. Randy Gregory. Charles Tapper. Nothing’s quite worked out there. And when my buddy, the respected Charles Robinson from Yahoo, uses a Jerry Jones phrase “war daddy’’ to speculatively link Richardson, 25, with Dallas again, I understand why.
But RKG matters here, as much as positive pedigree does. Richardson’s pedigree? He was the Jets’ first round pick, 13th overall, out of Missouri in 2013. In his first season, he recorded 78 tackles and 3.5 sacks. and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The following season, he went to the Pro Bowl after posting 67 total tackles and a career-high 8.0 sacks.
However, in 2015 he was suspended for four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was suspended again in 2016 when he allegedly drove over 140 miles per hour and attempted to evade police. Later during the 2016 season he was benched for missing a team meeting. And in December the Jets punished him for a profane social-media post.
Richardson also has a reputation of someone who involves himself in locker-room conflicts and after a 1.5-sack season in 2016, is better-known for odd/offensive social-media posts than he is for football success.
Add it up, and he has about the same number of suspensions, I think, as he has sacks.
Is he an edge rusher? Or someone who could line up inside at a 3-Tech? Could he be inspired to play the run, to focus on work, to clean up his act?
Last year, Dallas passed on a trade for him because it was unwilling to part with a “premier pick’’ (some reports suggest a first-rounder was suggested by the Jets, but even a third-rounder wasn’t going to happen here) … and one of the biggest reasons “why not’’ then remains, in a similar form, one of the biggest reasons “why not’’ now.
The reason the Jets wished to dump him in 2016 is because he had one year (2017) left on his contract and he was planning on demanding a monster deal. New York had no intention of providing that, and wisely anticipated that he’d become a locker-room problem (yet again) without his desired paycheck.
Fast-forward to today: It’s five months later. The Jets still haven’t given him a new deal. So Richardson is playing through 2017 at a price tag of $8.069 million next season.
Dallas also will not be giving him a gigantic contract … and Dallas, cap-wise, will struggle to justify even the $8.069 million. (The best story you'll read on the Cowboys cap is here - "Navigating Cap Hell.'')
Trade Tony Romo for Richardson? That’s far more complex than the rumor makes it sound, as Romo has a big hand in deciding where he’ll end up. (We've got every Romo angle covered here as we "Open The Envelope, Please'' on his future.) So let’s keep this simple … Trade a very high pick for Richardson? Nope, because then Dallas is paying two premium prices (the $8 mil AND a valued draft pick) for a troublesome goofball. Argue over giving up a third-rounder for a one-year rental of a knucklehead who has the talent to put a Super Bowl-caliber team "over the top''?
Well ... yes. We can see a certain someone here inside The Star at Frisco wanting to make that argument, as soon as he's done hugging it out with party partner Jimmy Johnson. (Our story from inside the Cowboys 25 Reunion, by the way, is here.) But we were handed a bottom-line answer when we tossed the rumor toward a high-placed Cowboys exec and he replied with a harsh, "Hell, no.''
Team chemistry is a delicate thing. Cap management is, too. Sheldon Richardson is an “indelicate’’ person, in so many ways, and is therefore a highly unlikely fit in Dallas.