The feel good vibes of the New York Jets offseason went up in smoke on Thursday afternoon as the league announced a four-game suspension for defensive end Sheldon Richardson for violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
Richardson, set to enter his third year with the Jets, has been a dominant pass rusher for the Jets and has arguably been the team's top defensive player the past two seasons. But his four-game suspension, which includes Richardson having to miss not just regular season but all practices during the season's first month, is a big blow to a unit that had aspirations of being a top-defense this year.
The Jets were high on this unit's potential to key their turn around and while they aren't exactly left dazed and confused, the loss of Richardson is big.
“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans. However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on,” Richardson said in a statement released by the team.
“I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”
He will be allowed to return Oct. 5 for the game against the Miami Dolphins. Richardson will be able to practice with the team and participate in training camp as well as all preseason games but can not be at the team's facility for the entirety of the four-game suspension.
Per league policy, there was no disclosure on what exactly Richardson did to fail the NFL's drug policy.
But the news was a blow to the Jets and a hit for a franchise that had so much good news this past offseason with a sensational free agency period followed up by a very solid NFL Draft. For Jets fans juiced about the team and with high hopes for a return to the playoffs, the loss of a key part of their defense has to leave them feeling burned out.