East Rumors: Richardson, Dolphins, Giants

The Jets‘ selection of Leonard Williams at No. 6 overall initially looked to put Muhammad Wilkerson in a corner regarding his pursuit of a contract extension. But after Sheldon Richardson‘s substance-abuse suspension Thursday that will keep him out four games, the Jets look like the ones at a disadvantage in the event of a Wilkerson holdout, writes Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk.

In reporting to minicamp, Wilkerson lobbied for a new contract. The fifth-year defensive end who’s curiously without a Pro Bowl invite, despite dominant seasons in 2012 and 2014 that ranked in the top 3 among 3-4 ends on Pro Football Focus (subscription required), will make $7MM this season after the Jets triggered Wilkerson’s fifth-year option.

Richardson’s reported marijuana-related offense could help his running mate, with Gang Green likely not wanting to go into the season with just Williams available for work among their first-round contingent of defensive linemen. Gantt also points out Williams’ arrival now may work against Richardson, with the team less likely to entertain the notion of extending the 2013 defensive rookie of the year’s contract when the time comes.

Here are some more notes from around the Eastern divisions.

  • Dolphins players are growing concerned about the team’s situation at guard, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. With the tackle and center spots sewn up with talented cogs, Miami hasn’t had a guard take command of a spot (although how much command could one take during padless minicamp/OTA sessions?). There have been positive reports of fourth-round rookie Jamil Douglas‘ progression, but the Fins will still head into training camp with guard as their biggest offensive uncertainty.
  • In the same report, Jackson notes the team’s wide receiver depth that once posed concern after the departures of Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline now appears solid. Players reportedly view Rishard Matthews — who could sit behind Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker — as a talent who could thrive if given a larger role. A former 2012 seventh-rounder, Matthews sought a trade or a release as recently as May due to dissatisfaction in playing as the No. 5 wideout. Matthews has 64 career catches for 734 yards and four scores.
  • A recent analysis conducted by Football Outsiders revealed the Eagles as the league’s healthiest team over the past two seasons, while the Giants are by far the most injury-stricken. Big Blue ranked last in the league for both the 2013 and 2014 campaigns but have slowly started to accept the sports science trends most notably thrust into the spotlight by the rival Eagles, writes the New York Post’s Jordan Ranaan. Despite Walter Thurmond‘s recent comments of Tom Coughlin being old school and resistant to these methods, Ranaan notes the Giants are now charting sleep schedules and placing chips onto players’ jerseys to measure explosiveness.
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