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Finding Free Agents: A Paul Richardson reunion would make sense for both sides

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In our 2020 iteration of Finding Free Agents, we’ll attempt to answer three questions for each player: Why would the Seahawks be interested? What would their contract look like? What is the likelihood they reach free agency? Throughout the series, we’ll be focused on specific positions of need in Seattle: Wide receiver, offensive line, defensive tackle and EDGE.

Paul Richardson’s time with the Seahawks was an up-and-down affair. As a rookie, he came on strong towards the end of the season when the offense needed a spark. When he was injured in Seattle’s playoff win that year over the Panthers, it felt like the Seahawks had lost a key piece. His sophomore season was non-existent, as injures limited him to one game and one catch for forty yards. In his third season, he struggled to carve out a role, but stayed healthy. Ahead of his fourth season, Richardson trained with Russell Wilson and it paid off, as the lanky speedster broke out with 44 catches, 703 yards and six scores.

Richardson would go on to sign a five-year, $40 million deal with Washington in free agency. After two more injury plagued years, Washington cut Richardson and now, he is back on the market.

Why would the Seahawks be interested?

It was perfectly understandable for Seattle not to match what Richardson got in free agency two years ago, but now that he is available at what would be an affordable price, a reunion would make sense. It wasn’t just Richardson’s counting stats that made his final season with the Seahawks so exciting, it was the way his production came. No longer was Richardson simply a vertical threat; he consistently won on curls and comebacks, as well as catching contested balls over the middle of the field and offering Wilson a safe option inside and outside of structure. Richardson finished in the top-25 among receivers in both DYAR and DVOA in 2017, and turned 77.3 percent of his catches into first downs—the fourth-highest rate in the NFL.

About to enter his age-28 season, Richardson still has production to offer, as long as he can stay healthy. He has proven to have chemistry with Wilson, and his high catch radius over the middle of the field was something Seattle lacked in 2018. A reunion makes sense for both parties.

What would Richardson’s contract look like?

On an $8 million APY deal, Richardson produced 48 catches, 507 yards and four touchdowns in 17 games. In a draft rich with wide receivers, his value is low. A short-term deal would likely be desired by both sides. For the Seahawks, it would offer protection should an oft-injured player remain as such. For Richardson, it would enable him to reset his value in a good situation and try to re-enter the market and land another long-term deal. A one- or two-year deal, in the range of $2.5 million to $4 million per year falls in line with receivers of similar situation and/or skill set. At that little investment, Seattle could add another option, deepen their receiver corps while also remaining flexible to even add another pass catcher, be it through free agency or the draft.

Will Richardson reach free agency?

Released by Washington in mid-February, Richardson has been a free agent and free to sign with any team for several weeks now. There has been no reported interested from any teams in Richardson up to this point and with free agency approaching, it’s safe to think he’ll be a part of the second-wave of free agency, at this point.