JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks’ reunion with Paul Richardson proves they played right cards at WR

Aug 31, 2020, 2:48 PM
Seahawks WR Paul RIchardson...
Paul Richardson officially rejoined the Seahawks on Sunday after two years with Washington. (AP)
(AP)

The move to bring wide receiver Paul Richardson back to the Seahawks was an interesting one.

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Richardson had been on the Seahawks’ list of players to sign since the beginning of free agency. Price, though, was a problem. The Seahawks were looking to sign a receiver at the NFL minimum. They were successful with that when Phillip Dorsett accepted a minimum salary plus a signing bonus, counting as $887,500 under the cap.

The Seahawks have been hoping the whole offseason that Richardson would come back and sign for the minimum. It appears that happened even though the numbers of his deal haven’t surfaced. He might count as low as $750,000 against the cap.

If that is true, it shows how well Seahawks general manager John Schneider has done in figuring out the receiver room. In 2017, Schneider knew Seattle had a difficult decision to make at wide receiver. Doug Baldwin was the team’s No. 1 receiver, Richardson was set to be a free agent in 2018, and Tyler Lockett’s deal also was up after that season.

Washington signed Richardson to a five-year, $40 million contract that offseason. When the Seahawks elected not to pay Richardson $8 million a year, you knew they were going to wait to sign Lockett. He signed a three-year, $30.75 million extension prior to the beginning of the 2018 season.

Salary cap decisions are often planned three years in advance. Baldwin was making $11.5 million as the team’s No. 1 receiver. There was no way the Seahawks could afford paying Richardson and Lockett, so they let Richardson walk and were able to eventually pay Lockett is $10.25 million a year.

Baldwin retired before last season, but the Seahawks traded up in the second round of the 2019 draft to get DK Metcalf, who has secured the No. 2 job and shows the potential to be a No. 1 and a star.

That’s the beauty of being patient. If Richardson’s new deal is for the minimum, the Seahawks would have Richardson and Lockett for the price of Baldwin’s old contract. Brilliant.

Now it will be interesting to see how things sort out at wide receiver over the next two weeks. With Dorsett having a lower leg injury, it’s not out of the question for the Seahawks to keep six receivers on their roster instead of the expected five. David Moore has an escalator in his contract that takes his base salary up to $2.133 million. If the Seahawks acquire someone who is costly along the defensive line, the Seahawks may ask Moore to take a pay cut or be cut.

Also keep in mind that one of the veteran receivers could go on the practice squad for $12,000 a week. Moore, Dorsett and Richardson will be competing to be the No. 3 wide receiver. There is still the possibility of getting Josh Gordon, too, but the league has not determined if it will lift his indefinite suspension.

Signing Richardson doesn’t close the door for Gordon, but being so close to the start of the season it may indicate that the Seahawks aren’t optimistic about Gordon’s availability. Getting Richardson back, though, is a testament to being patient and getting results.

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