The New York Jets accomplished three things by trading defensive end Sheldon Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and draft picks, making this a win-win-win for New York:
1. The Jets acquired future draft capital, a second-round pick in 2018 (the teams also swapped seventh-round picks). You know the deal: It's all about the future for the Jets, who made it quite clear in the offseason that winning isn't the No. 1 priority this season. Chances are, it'll be a low second-round pick because the Seattle Seahawks are a strong team, but it's an asset -- and the Jets need as many assets as they can get, especially since the Buffalo Bills (a division rival) are stockpiling future picks.
2. The Jets addressed a glaring need by acquiring Kearse, 27, who has experience in a West Coast system. He's not a true No. 1 receiver. He may not be a No. 2, but he looks like Jerry Rice in the eyes of the Jets, whose receiving corps in the preseason looked like the worst in the league. Kearse's big-play production slipped last season -- he scored only one touchdown and averaged 12.5 yards per catch -- prompting Seattle to put him on the trading block. I'd say he's a notch below Eric Decker, whom the Jets released in June, but Kearse is making only $2.2 million this year and $5 million in 2018. He might not be a long-term answer, but he is an NFL-caliber receiver who has played in big games (not that the Jets will have any).
3. Richardson had to go for a couple of reasons. He's in his contract year and the Jets almost certainly would've lost him as a free agent, receiving nothing (except maybe a compensatory pick in 2019). Concerned about his off-the-field issues, the Jets were reluctant to invest long term in the twice-suspended Richardson. They've made a concerted effort to change the culture in the locker room, which Richardson helped destroy last year with his personal vendetta against receiver Brandon Marshall. The Jets rid themselves of players like Marshall, Calvin Pryor and Darrelle Revis in an attempt to rebuild team chemistry.
Coach Todd Bowles was livid early in training camp when Richardson torched Marshall in a radio interview, another example of the immature defensive lineman putting himself above the team. He got an earful from Bowles, who essentially told him he was one more misstep away from being shown the door. It's not clear if anything happened between then and now, but the damage had been done. Quite simply, the Jets were tired of his act.
Is there downside to the trade? Sure, there's always downside. Richardson, a first-round pick in 2013, is only 26 years old and a tremendous talent. He could turn into a true star with Seattle, where his outspoken personality will be embraced in coach Pete Carroll's laissez-faire environment, but there's a difference between a talented player and a winning player. Richardson isn't a winning player. We've seen the New England Patriots unload guys like Richardson (Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, et al) because the Patriots put the team above individual talent.
Bowles is trying to do that, evidenced by his new mantra: "One team, one goal." He might not be around to reap the benefits of that extra second-round pick, but at least he has a plan.
The defensive line, with Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson, is strong enough to withstand the loss. This should help defensive end Kony Ealy's chances of sticking; he can be a nickel pass-rusher. The coaches never figured out a way to use Williams, Wilkerson and Richardson, so this should make things easier.
The Jets traded from a strength, helped a weakness and bolstered their future. What's not to like about the trade?