On Friday the Washington Redskins, long a poorly run franchise that finally made some changes to the front office this offseason that has fans hopeful for the future cleaned house by releasing multiple players in salary cap related moves. Those released include former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson, who can begin searching for a new team immediately, and potentially take advantage of a month long head start in advance of free agency. There has been no shortage of Hawks fans expressing an interest in a reunion with Richardson for 2020, as long as the terms were acceptable, and acceptable terms has typically meant a one-year, low-cost, prove-it style of contract.
The question then becomes, would a return to Seattle make sense from Richardson’s perspective?
The answer to that is far more complicated. Returning to Seattle would certainly allow him to reunite with Russell Wilson, unquestionably the best quarterback he’s played with over the course of his career. However, Richardson is also set to play the 2020 season at 28 years of age, meaning if he plays his cards right in 2020 and has a productive season, he may have one more shot to cash in on a good sized free agent contract in 2021.
With that in mind, it then becomes necessary to ask whether Seattle is the best place for him to do that. While returning to Seattle would put him back in a familiar environment, there’s been a complete overhaul of the team since he left. There’s a new offensive coordinator with a new system and a renewed focus on the run game, which means multiple things. The first is, obviously, that it wouldn’t be a plug and play situation where Richardson would come in knowing the offense. That’s not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, as he’ll need to learn a new offense anywhere he goes, but it’s noteworthy in that it doesn’t make Seattle any more (or less) attractive compared to other locations.
However, getting back to the idea of potentially being able to cash in next spring after playing 2020 on a one year deal, let’s look at that question from Richardson’s perspective. If, indeed, his goal is to maximize his on-field production in 2020 in order to make his services as marketable as possible next spring, Seattle doesn’t seem like a good fit.
For starters, Seattle has Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf locked in at the top two receiver spots, putting Richardson at no better than a third option. While being the third option is a likely outcome for Richardson with nearly any franchise, the opportunities as a third option in Seattle are likely more limited than elsewhere as a direct result of the offensive system the Hawks employ.
Specifically, for a receiver looking to produce big on a one year contract in order to potentially cash in next offseason, Seattle is about the last place that player wants to be. The Hawks, of course, passed more often in 2019 compared to 2018, but they were still far closer to the bottom of the league than the top when it came to the rate at which they attacked defenses through the air.
The pass-happiest team in the league are Super Bowl Champions. pic.twitter.com/rnhSzHp0kG— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) February 3, 2020
So, taking that into consideration, what are landing spots that could be more attractive for Prich? The Kansas City Chiefs obviously have Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman as their top two weapons, but are likely to be looking to replace Sammy Watkins as the third wideout for cap reasons. The Miami Dolphins certainly provide the opportunity to live in South Beach for a year, but are unlikely to offer a competitive team for those players interested in winning. The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints are both places where he could potentially slide in as a dangerous third option and potentially work with a Hall of Fame quarterback past their prime.
And then we arrive at two NFC West options. Richardson was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, and he played high school football with Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods. Obviously, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds appear to have the third and fourth slots on lockdown for the Rams, but the Arizona Cardinals could be intriguing. Kliff Kingsbury, of course, runs a variant of the Air Raid offense, and Richardson’s speed could be a dangerous weapon as an outside receiver. Whether the Cardinals would have any interest a receiver who has never played in the Air Raid previously is an interesting question, as the receivers they targeted in free agency in 2019 were largely those who had played in the Air Raid in college, including Kevin White and Michael Crabtree.
And topping out the top eight in terms of the most pass happy offenses is the Tampa Bay Bay Buccaneers, where former NFC West “Sherriff” Bruce Arians is still trying to figure out who will be the quarterback throwing it up deep to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, with third wide receiver Breshad Perriman set to hit free agency himself in March.
In any case, it’s certainly possible that Richardson could return to Seattle, but from his perspective and evaluating his opportunities from the perspective of what is best for his future, it would seem likely he will look to go elsewhere.