Jets GM won't commit to Richardson's long-term future with team

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, commenting for the first time on Sheldon Richardson's recent arrest and drug suspension, expressed support for the Pro Bowl defensive end but was noncommittal on his long-term future with the organization.

"At this point in time, we'll see how it progresses," Maccagnan said Saturday. "It's not about words right now, it's about actions -- not actions on the football field. It's how he handles himself."

Richardson, already facing a four-game ban for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, was arrested July 14 and charged with resisting arrest after leading police on a high-speed chase in St. Louis.

Police say he was street racing, clocked at 143 mph, with a 12-year-old in the car. They also smelled marijuana in the car, but no drug charges were filed. It's an apparent violation of the league's personal-conduct policy, which likely will mean an additional suspension.

"We do worry about Sheldon in terms of the decisions he has made off the field," Maccagnan said. "There is a degree of trust that has been broken, but we're supportive."

Richardson, a first-round pick in 2013, is signed through 2016. The Jets have a surplus of talented defensive linemen and could look to trade him in the offseason.

Maccagnan said Richardson will undergo counseling from a team psychologist, adding, "The resources we have in the building, we're going to put forth to try to help him."

Publicly, Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles have been supportive, but they were blindsided by the arrest. Maccagnan acknowledged that he had no idea until media reports surfaced late Thursday afternoon -- about an hour after Richardson vowed to reporters that he'd never get in trouble again.

"I'm not a dope fiend," Richardson said at the time.

It was "a little disappointing" that Richardson didn't confide with his employers, Maccagnan said. Under the personal-conduct policy, players are required to report off-the-field issues to their team in a timely manner.

"I wouldn't say I'm angry or upset," Maccagnan said. "It's just one of those things you have to deal with."

But at the same time, team officials haven't put a timetable on Richardson's anticipated return, knowing full well his suspension could be extended.

The uncertainty surrounding Richardson could have an indirect impact on defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, whom the Jets are trying to sign to a long-term contract extension. Talks are moving slowly, and Wilkerson said he will shelve negotiations if a deal can't be reached by Week 1.

Maccagnan insisted that Richardson's situation has no impact on the Wilkerson talks, claiming they've always had the intention to sign him to a long-term deal.

"Nothing has changed," he said.

Maccagnan revealed the Jets have had talks with free-agent guard Evan Mathis, a former Pro Bowl player cut by the Philadelphia Eagles in the spring. Right guard is a big concern for the Jets.