With former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson having signed with the Washington Redskins on a lucrative free agent deal, many fans are lamenting his loss and worried about where the team’s offensive production will come from going forward. The issue with that is that during his career in Seattle Richardson was the definition of a replacement level receiver.
Over the course of the six seasons that Russell Wilson has been the quarterback of the Seahawks, the second wide receiver role has been filled by five different receivers, and in spite of the near constant turnover at the position, the production has remained largely predictable. Rather than bore everyone to death with a long winded description, here’s pretty much everything that needs to be said bundled neatly into a single tweet.
Yards/TDs/Catch Rate for WR2 for Seahawks since 2012:— John Gilbert (@SeahawksMachine) March 17, 2018
**denotes season recorded by WR on a rookie contract
WR2 for the Seahawks has been the definition of replaceable asset with RW at QB https://t.co/LPsVeZ1mA6
That tweet only looks at receiving yards, but if one looks at yards from scrimmage instead, in order to include the rushing yardage produced as well, the average production for the second wide receiver for the Seahawks during that time period is 696 yards from scrimmage. Yes, a sample size of six is certainly small, but Richardson still only produce seven more yards than the average Seattle WR2 over the last six seasons.
Seven. Seven yards. Is seven yards worth the extra millions that the Washington Redskins just paid to acquire Richardson? In addition to Richardson, that list includes Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse, and as is noted, every single season on the list has come while that receiver was on a rookie contract. The odds of Richardson ever returning were likely very small, which explains why the team spent multiple draft picks in 2017 on David Moore and Amara Darboh on Richardson’s potential replacement.
Further, by nearly any measure, over the course of their careers Paul Richardson has been outproduced by Tyler Lockett. Here’s a chart that compares the two receivers denoting which of the two comes out ahead in a variety of different categories.
I am really having a very hard time understanding why some fans are devastated by the loss of Richardson. I’ve got nothing against him - he got paid for what he has done, the skills he brings to the table and the potential that creates, and for that he is due a huge congratulations. He’s worked hard to get to where he is, and he has earned what he has gotten.
However, I have zero interest in Paul Richardson’s bank account. My concern is the future of the Seattle Seahawks, and in looking at the data, I simply do not see how losing Paul Richardson will in any way be disastrous for the team.
Does losing Richardson mean that someone else needs to step up? Absolutely. Does it mean that there will be more question marks at the receiver position heading into training camp? Of course. But am I going to jump into a full fledged panic while calling the end of the team’s ability to move the ball because the team lost a wide receiver who tied for 46th in the NFL in receiving yards? Am I going to flip out because the Seahawks lost a receiver who had fewer touchdown receptions than Tyler Kroft or Robby Anderson? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding no.
The Seahawks weren’t built around the offense. This is a team that has been and will continue to be built around defense. Losing Paul Richardson may be difficult for fans for sentimental reasons, but on the field his presence lacking is not likely to make a notable difference.