Is he the flashy name? No.
Is he the household name? No.
Is he the best man for the job? Yes.
Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson has somehow flown under the radar, despite being on one of the league’s “premier” franchises for his entire career. Drafted by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2014 draft, Richardson didn’t finally get a full-time starting role until this past season.
However, the legend of Paul Richardson did not start there. Richardson’s legend truly started in the 2016 playoffs, when he made a catch which can not be described as anything short of incredible. Richardson only had three receptions in that game, but it was the quality of them which truly turned some eyebrows.
Seahawks win big vs Lions, 26-6 in NFC wild-card game
Paul Richardson made this look way too easy! pic.twitter.com/aytESrRDl7
— PinPoint Sports (@SportsPinPoint) January 8, 2017
First came the greatest catch of all time. Is it a blown facemask penalty? Probably. However, his catching arm was being hooked by Tavon Wilson, and he was still able to catch the ball in one hand, maintaining control even after his body slammed against the turf.
— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) June 16, 2017
Forgot about in that Lions game is this catch in which Richardson shows off his extensive body control and leaping ability, outdueling Nevin Lawson for this ball on the sidelines. Richardson does literally everything right on this play, pulling down a throw from Russell Wilson that was just a bit high.
Richardson had a productive season for Seattle in 2016 but, as their third option, wasn’t able to ever gain the notoriety he now does. Richardson averaged 13.7 yards per reception in his first year back from a hamstring injury, but only had 21 catches on the season. Richardson didn’t have a start in the 2016 season, being listed behind Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse (who also has one of the greatest catches of all time) on the depth chart.
Following Kearse’s trade to the Jets this past offseason, Richardson got his chance to shine for the Seahawks. He broke out, finishing with 703 yards and 6 touchdowns, despite Wilson having to run for his life on the vast majority of plays this season. More impressively, however, he put up 16 yards per reception.
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) November 10, 2017
Richardson is extremely agile. Watch how, in this play, as he adjusts his body to get underneath Budda Baker and make the catch. Wilson doesn’t lead Richardson past Baker as he seems to be expecting, but rather places it into an extremely tight pocket, forcing Richardson to adjust, which he does exceptionally.
Richardson is rapid, putting up a 4.40 40-yard dash at his draft combine four years ago. Among prospects in his draft class, only Brandin Cooks and John Brown clocked faster times at that event than Richardson.
It’s obvious that Richardson is incredibly talented. He is going to get paid wherever he decides to play next season. In Chicago, however, he is a great fit.
Richardson is the prototypical Matt Nagy/Andy Reid receiver. He isn’t incredibly tall, but is insanely fast and agile, while maintaining great route running. Like the Bears will be running in 2018, Richardson comes from a West Coast style offense in Seattle, in which he thrived playing off of a possession receiver like Doug Baldwin.
Chicago’s version of that possession receiver is Cameron Meredith, who is coming back off on an ACL injury. Meredith never had the speed of many elite receivers, but has his place in this system, providing a reliable target for Mitchell Trubisky. He never got to show that last season.
Richardson is the only receiver in this free agency class without a huge red flag on them. If the money is spent on Jarvis Landry, the Bears are spending big on a guy whose role can be adequately filled by Kendall Wright. If it is spent on Allen Robinson, they are getting themselves into a situation in which both of their top two receivers are coming off major ACL surgeries.
Forget about the flashy name, the Bears need the receiver who puts them in the best position to succeed in 2018. And given the risks with the others, Paul Richardson is that guy.