RENTON — Paul Richardson is wearing a different number than during his first stint with the Seahawks — 8 instead of 10, which is currently being used by backup quarterback Danny Etling.
He’s since experienced some of both life’s miracles (becoming a father earlier this year) and harsh realities (suffering the death of a grandmother).
He’s also now 28, which in the Not For Long NFL makes him older than all but 16 players on Seattle’s current 80-man roster.
But Richardson insists that during his travels of the last few years — two seasons spent in Washington after signing there as a free agent in 2018 — he hasn’t lost a step.
Richardson had the fourth-fastest time among all receivers at the NFL combine in 2014 at 4.4, which helped compel the Seahawks to take him with their first pick in the draft that year, at 45th overall.
Now he’s back, after four years in Seattle and two more in Washington, and says his goal is “to bring some speed to the team. To add to it, actually. There’s a lot of fast guys. We’ve got some playmakers. And I just want to add to the group where I can.”
Richardson officially signed with the Seahawks on Sunday, the move coming in the wake of injuries to three other receivers that had Seattle going through camp for a few days last week with just seven healthy enough to participate.
“The receiver group has been really low in numbers, so it’s been a concern,” said head coach Pete Carroll.
Carroll, though, said the team had been in talks with Richardson for a while, indicating the move might have been made even if there hadn’t been injuries, though he also said “the timing was right for us to get him in.”
Seattle’s investment wasn’t heavy — Richardson agreed to a one-year deal for the minimum salary benefit (an option that was created as part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement) of $1.05 million for the 2020 season.
That’s actually just a little bit more than Seattle gave Phillip Dorsett II (who got a one-year deal at $910,000), who Richardson will now compete with for the third receiver role, along with David Moore.
Dorsett is one of the three receivers who have been injured in recent days, the others being John Ursua and Cody Thompson.
To fill the void, the Seahawks signed Richardson as well as free agent Lance Lenoir on Monday.
Moore has taken over as the third receiver in the absence of Dorsett, and could well hang onto that role — he seems just about a lock to make the roster, though his $2.1 million restricted free agent salary continues to lead to speculation of whether the team could make a move to try to reduce that payout in some way.
Dorsett, meanwhile, has been slowed for more than a week by a sore foot that Carroll said is not a new specific injury and instead is something “he’s felt over the years.”
“We’ve just got to take care of it and manage it,” Carroll said of Dorsett, who did not take part in any of the team’s three mock games.
Dorsett was back on Tuesday for the first time in almost two weeks. Still, a player needing injury management with less than two weeks before the regular season is obviously not ideal and now allows a wide door for Richardson to make a significant impact immediately, assuming he can get back to playing shape quickly.
Ursua’s bid to win a spot also has taken at least a little bit of a hit with the recent hamstring injury though he was back on Tuesday. Rookie Freddie Swain was also slowed early in camp by an ankle injury and while he is now back, it’s unclear yet how ready he is to assume a major role this year.
Enter, or re-enter, Richardson who will have to answer some injury questions of his own.
Richardson played just 17 games in two seasons with Washington, ending up on IR last season with a hamstring injury.
But he said in a Zoom call with media Sunday that he is healthy now. He did not take part in any team drills Sunday as the team is easing him in, but should ramp up pretty quickly (he did not take part in team drills Tuesday).
Richardson will have some work to do learning the playbook as the Seahawks have a different offensive coordinator now, Brian Schottenheimer, than in Richardson’s previous tenure, Darrell Bevell.
Richardson said the tempo of the offense “has picked up a lot” but said “there’s a lot of carryover” in the playbook, indicating he should be able to pick it up relatively fast.
Richardson had something of a star-crossed first tenure with the Seahawks, missing all but one game in 2015 due to injuries. But when healthy he was an undeniable big-play threat, averaging 16 yards per reception during his final Seattle season of his first tenure with the team in 2017, ninth in the NFL.
That helped him earn a five-year deal with Washington worth up to $40 million, with $16.5 million guaranteed.
He made it through just two years of that contract before a new Washington regime led by Ron Rivera began making significant changes in the offseason (and that he’d missed 15 games in two years was also a factor).
Richardson said he knew it might be coming and actually had his agent tell the team that if it was going to release him to do so quickly, which Washington did, cutting him on Feb. 14.
Richardson said that allowed him to focus on being with his family for the birth of his baby and the death of his grandmother.
“My family really needed me,” Richardson said. “Most importantly my kid really needed me.”
If Richardson’s Washington story didn’t quite pan out the way he hoped, he’s at least glad it led him back to something of a second home.
“I’m back where I belong,” Richardson said.
Now to see where he fits in.