Oakland Raiders should gamble on Sheldon Richardson


Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders already rolled the dice with one troubled passer, Aldon Smith, and they should do so again by trading for New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

During Week 1 up against the Cincinnati Bengals clearly showed the Raiders over-matched versus a perennial playoff team. They registered no sacks of Andy Dalton and got picked apart in the passing game. Added, the team blitzed zero times. They needed extra defenders for their poor pass coverage.

If the Raiders want to generate pass rush with its front four, Richardson is a talent worth taking a risk on. Currently, Richardson is serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL Substance Abuse Policy. Then he got into more trouble by allegedly violating a bunch of laws during a high-speed pursuit.

Therefore, Richardson’s return from suspension is questionable at best. However, that means his trade value is cheap. The Jets already have two solid five techniques on the roster. They drafted Leonard Williams with their top draft selection, and many expected Williams to replace defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson.

Wilkerson is in his own contract negotiations and will not sign an extension before the end of the season. Nonetheless, the Jets can always franchise Wilkerson in the offseason, especially with Richardson’s status in the air.

Hence, Richardson could be the odd man out in New York. Now it is unlikely the Raiders give up a first round pick for any player. Fans know how much general manager Reggie McKenzie loves draft picks.

However, the Raiders still need so much talent that the gamble is worth it. A second or third round pick would, more than likely, take too much time to develop into anything close to Richardson.

With commissioner Roger Goodell’s questionable discipline decisions, it is impossible to predict Richardson’s punishment. Moreover, no one knows when he will get formal league punishment or possible jail time.

In my opinion, Goodell’s will probably give Richardson his due process in a real court of law before acting. If that is the case, Richardson might not see any extensive jail time. Either way, Goodell can not afford another public relations debacle so fast after Deflategate.

Ultimately, Richardson could play again this season. He would make the Raiders five-man pass rush dominate in base defense.

Richardson and Dan Williams would be a defensive tackle duo reminiscent of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, whom dominated offensive lines for current Raiders coach Jack Del Rio when he coached Jacksonville.

Second year defensive tackle Justin Ellis will also be more effective as a rotational player. That penetration in the middle will make Khalil Mack, Justin Tuck and Aldon Smith’s lives easier on the edge. Quarterbacks won’t step up easy in the pocket, and the quarterbacks will escape to the edge players.

Those defensive ends could also keep contain better, because they will not primarily focus on rushing the passer. That helps out Ray Ray Armstrong who struggled keeping containment versus the Bengals.

Richardson is also young enough to permit the high price tag. Once he puts these off field issues behind him, he could still have a long career. Further, Richardson has two years left on his deal. The Raiders will not have to worry about losing the sweepstake for his services in 2017, if they trade for him. Fans know how well the Raiders have done at nabbing marquee free agents.

Although it is unlikely a trade for Richardson gets done, it does make sense for both teams. The Jets allow the New York media to move on from the Richardson public relations nightmare. The Jets also invest in the Leonard Williams era, and they can commit long-term money to Wilkerson.

For the Raiders, they get a young player who makes their defense dynamic.

In the worst case, Richardson might be a one or two season rental. If Richardson can help the team even stiff the playoffs, the juice would be worth the squeeze.

Oakland has missed the playoffs for more than a decade. In order for the team to end that drought, the organization needs to take chances even if it is for the short-term. The Raiders stadium prospects are not bright, and winning will help them get priority for a stadium in Los Angeles or Oakland.

Del Rio continues preaching a winning culture, but he needs to continue gambling on talent. Only then can Del Rio restore the franchise to glory as the Raiders may need to take risks on troubled players to get talent at an affordable price.