As expected, “P-Rich” proved too rich to keep.
The Seahawks lost another veteran on Tuesday when the Washington Redskins agreed to give now-former Seattle wide receiver Paul Richardson a $40 million, five-year contract with $20 million in guarantees. That was first reported the day before the official opening of the free-agent market by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
The $8 million per year for the 25-year-old Richardson, who played just six games his first three seasons after the Seahawks made him their second-round draft choice in 2014, was likely about $3 million per season higher than cap-strapped Seattle would have considered to keep him.
Richardson is the fifth former Seahawks starter to exit town in the last six days.
Seattle waived Richard Sherman, as you may have heard, plus defensive backs Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead, and agreed to trade Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett to Philadelphia. Those moves saved $20 million against the salary cap; Seattle went from $12 million to $32 million in space to shop in free agency.
Now Richardson signs with Washington. He’s the first departure that could factor into Seattle getting a compensatory draft choice next year, because unlike the others his contract had already expired to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Seahawks’ wide receivers right now are Baldwin (signed through 2020), Lockett (going into the final year of his contract), 2017 rookie Amara Darboh (whom the Seahawks love for his polished routes but needs to show more in year two), 2017 seventh-round draft choice David Moore (still an unknown) and former safety and college quarterback Tanner McEvoy (whose roster spot remains endangered this year) and former LSU track star Cyril Grayson (raw, with raw speed).
So, yes, another apparent position of need on the eve of free agency officially beginning and before the draft next month.
Richardson tore a knee ligament at the end of his rookie season. He returned in November 2015, then had that season end after two quarters because of a torn hamstring that affected most of his 2016, too. Before last season he worked in Southern California extensively with quarterback Russell Wilson. And it paid off--now, literally. Richardson surpassed Lockett as Seattle’s No. 2 wide receiver behind Doug Baldwin, and showed his speed was back on deep balls and clutch throws by Wilson.
Now Washington rewards his progress. Baldwin and Lockett congratulated him about his new deal Tuesday--and the work back from injuries it took to get it.