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Sheldon Richardson: ‘I’ll be damned’ if Jets tank in 2017

Sheldon Richardson has become the second New York Jets player to throw cold water on the notion the team is intent on tanking the 2017 NFL season.

A theory has taken hold in recent weeks that the Jets essentially committed to tanking this upcoming season when the team released veterans Eric Decker and David Harris, joining Jamal Adams, Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, and Darrelle Revis among the players with whom the Jets have cut loose in an eventful offseason.

But to hear it from Richardson, like running back Matt Forte before him, tanking won’t be the in the cards for the players.

“Whatever,” Richardson said, via “I mean, I don’t tank nothing. So that’s all opinions outside of this organization. We don’t come here — and we’re not going to go through training camp, and have 14-hour days — to go tank a season. I’ll be damned.”

Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan insists tanking wasn’t the focus for all the offseason roster moves. But simply the dearth of proven talent at the quarterback position alone seems to lend to the possibility the Jets are not banking on winning a lot of games this upcoming season.

Richardson, who reportedly has been dangled by the team in trade talks, pointed out that “nobody’s safe” when a team is in transition, which the Jets obviously are at this point.

“Everybody here feels like they’ve got something to prove,” the 26-year-old defensive end said. “Everybody. We’re not selling ourselves short. We’re not trying to tank a season or nothing like that.”

Richardson admitted the Harris and Decker moves “were questionable in our own locker room, and they messed with us a little bit last week.” But he called on new players to assume leadership roles.

Richardson may or may not even be with the Jets as the tanking story line — or lack thereof — takes shape. One thing appears certain, though: The Jets seem committed to getting younger, not necessarily better, at least in the short term. The debate as to whether that amounts to tanking may be a purely academic endeavor.