NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets exercised their fifth-year option on defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson on Monday, keeping him under contract with the team through the 2017 season.
The team also announced that it declined the option, as expected, on oft-injured cornerback Dee Milliner, meaning the 2013 first-round draft pick can become a free agent after this season.
Richardson has 16 1/2 career sacks and was the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year after being selected 13th overall, four spots after the Jets took Milliner, and has been a dynamic player.
But Richardson's immediate playing future is uncertain because he faces possible discipline from the NFL after being arrested in Missouri last July after driving his car up to 143 mph. He pleaded guilty in January to resisting arrest, which could subject him to a suspension under the league's personal conduct policy. The NFL is reviewing the case.
He was suspended the first four games last season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but finished with five sacks in 11 games.
Milliner has missed 27 games during his first three seasons because of injuries, a disappointing start to a career for which the Jets had high hopes. Rex Ryan, the coach when Milliner was drafted, projected the former Alabama star to be a solid starter right away.
He was up and down while starting 12 of 13 games as a rookie, but had a good final month and was selected the NFL's defensive rookie of the month in December 2013, when he had 13 passes defensed, including three interceptions, in five games.
But Milliner had a high ankle sprain during training camp the following summer, and tore an Achilles tendon in Week 6 of that season - limiting him to just three games. He spent the first eight games last season on the injured reserve-designated to return list after needing surgery in training camp to repair a torn wrist ligament. Milliner played no snaps on defense last season after rejoining the team, and will compete for a backup spot this summer.
''Dee is a bit of a wild card, and not in a bad way,'' general manager Mike Maccagnan said during a radio interview on 98.7 ESPN New York. ''We'll see how he does. This is going to be a big offseason for him.''
Maccagnan didn't rule out the Jets re-signing Milliner after the season, and added that the decision to decline the option gives both sides options.
''If Dee goes out and plays well, we have the ability to potentially try to negotiate a contract and sign him,'' Maccagnan said. ''And, of course, being a player, not having the option tag picked up, he can play this season and hit free agency if he wants.''
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