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Pete Carroll: Paul Richardson ‘a big factor’ next year

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Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When Tyler Lockett went down with a season-ending broken leg in the Seattle Seahawks’ Week 16 loss against the Arizona Cardinals, Paul Richardson effectively assumed Lockett’s duties, and the results were extremely positive. With the Seahawks now looking towards next season, head coach Pete Carroll praised Richardson’s performance, and indicated that he’ll have a significant role in the offense moving forward.

"Going into the next year we’re just counting on him being a big factor,” Carroll said (quote via Seahawks.com). "I think he was able to give us the same sparks that Tyler gave us and we think the world of Tyler. It’s a good looking group. He made some fantastic plays and I’m glad that he knows that going into the offseason and we know that going into the offseason. ... He did a great job for himself and he helped us.”

Having entered the Arizona game with just 13 catches for 206 yards, Richardson’s final four games of the season saw him rake in 15 catches (on 21 targets) for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His performance against the Detroit Lions was nothing short of spectacular, and his incredible one-handed touchdown grab will go down as one of the best plays of this year’s postseason.

The 2014 second-round draft pick had a similar late-season emergence in his rookie year, only to suffer a torn ACL during Seattle’s divisional round win over the Panthers. Richardson was placed on the PUP list to start 2015, then made his season debut in week 10 against Arizona, but found himself on IR once again after injuring his hamstring on his only catch of the season. When factoring in his torn ACL in 2012 while playing for the University of Colorado, this marked Richardson’s third season-ending injury in four years.

Richardson’s durability will still be a question mark given his injury history — he missed one game this season due to a hamstring problem — but in terms of productivity, he stepped up in a major way, and was extremely efficient over the past month. He gained 10+ yards on 16 of his 28 receptions (playoffs included), and recorded first downs on 22 catches, good for a rate of about 78.6% (tops among all Seahawks players with at least 10 receptions).

It’s quite possible that the receiving trio for the 2017 Seahawks will consist of Doug Baldwin-Tyler Lockett-Paul Richardson, and I couldn’t be any more stoked. Of course, this would reduce Jermaine Kearse to #4 on the depth chart, but his future with the team is perhaps discussion best saved for another day.