AFC East Notes: Brady, Jets, Bills, Bush

In response to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady abandoning his Deflategate fight on Friday and accepting his four-game suspension to begin the season, owner Robert Kraft issued a statement blasting the NFL for its handling of the matter. Kraft expressed frustration with the notion that Brady “was denied his right to a fair and impartial process. The League’s investigation into a football pressure matter was flawed and biased from the start, and has been discredited nearly unanimously by accredited academics and scientists.”

Kraft continued: “The penalty imposed by the NFL was unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable, especially given that no empirical or direct evidence of any kind showed Tom did anything to violate League rules prior to, during or after the 2015 AFC Championship Game. What Tom has had to endure throughout this 18-month ordeal has been, in my opinion, as far removed from due process as you could ever expect in this country.”

Unsurprisingly, Kraft went on to pledge both his and the franchise’s full support to Brady, saying, “This entire process has indelibly taken a toll on our organization, our fans and most importantly, Tom Brady. His reluctant decision to stop pursuing further action and to put this situation behind him is what he feels is best for the team in preparation for this season and is fully supported by me and our entire organization.”

Here’s more from around the AFC East, whose three other teams are likely feeling a little better about their chances in light of the Brady news:

  • Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson‘s stunning Friday extension with the Jets could spell trouble for Sheldon Richardson‘s long-term prospects with the club, opines CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, who wonders if the latter will end up on the trading block next year (Twitter link). Richardson, 25, is signed through the 2017 campaign at less than $10MM in combined salary, and he has palatable cap hits of $3.115MM and $8.069MM, respectively.
  • On the other hand, Albert Breer of TheMMQB (on Twitter) expects Richardson to stay with the Jets through at least his current contract. The Jets would then have an opportunity to decide whether to go forth with Richardson or Wilkerson, who has $37MM in guarantees coming his way through 2017, or even both. Gang Green will also have further time to develop fellow lineman Leonard Williams – its first-rounder last year – during that period, Breer points out.
  • Thanks to Karlos Williamsfour-game suspension, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter) looks for the Bills to pursue free agent running back Reggie Bush. With Williams set to miss a quarter of the season and fellow backup Jonathan Williams dealing with his own off-field issues, the Bills suddenly don’t look nearly as deep in the backfield, though they’re still positioned well with LeSean McCoy, 2015 breakout Mike Gillislee and Dan Herron in the fold. Bush, meanwhile, hasn’t yet found work since tearing his ACL as a member of the 49ers last November.
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