Paul Richardson Could Be Pre-Free Agency Acquisition for Patriots
Let's face it - the New England Patriots are in a bit of a pickle when free agency begins. They need to add offensive weapons to convince Tom Brady he should return to the Patriots, but if they are going to retain Brady, they need to have cap space available in order to that. So adding weapons before they sign Brady would be a tough task.
That's why adding a cheap, but talented pass-catcher before free agency begins is a viable option for New England, that way they have a new toy to flash at Brady before he becomes a free agent, while also having enough money to use in negotiations with the 42-year-old QB.
While the pre-free agency pool of players at the receiver position was seemingly dry before Friday, there has been one player added to that grouping that could be an option for the Patriots - Paul Richardson.
The 27-year-old receiver was one of four players cut by the Redskins on Friday in an effort to free up some cap space. Richardson signed a five-year, $40 million deal with Washington back in 2018, but after two lackluster seasons in which he missed 15 games and only accumulated 48 receptions for 507 yards and four touchdowns, the team has decided to move on from him.
Richardson has earned a reputation in the NFL for being a vertical playmaker. At 6-foot and with 4.4 speed, he can stretch the field and make strong, spectacular grabs downfield, which is something he did very well during his time with quarterback Russell Wilson in Seattle. That's why his best season to-date came in 2017 with the Seahawks, in which he had 703 yards, six touchdowns, and averaged 16.0 yards per reception. Unfortunately, injuries and poor quarterback play in Washington prevented him from flashing his playmaking ability often over the past two seasons.
For the Patriots, Richardson's ability is something they could make use of. New England, who has Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu and Jakobi Meyers as their primary receivers, doesn't have a wideout on the roster that can consistently stretch the field. That player used to be Rob Gronkowski for them, who could go vertical down the hash marks and challenge secondaries. But since his retirement, that ability by any pass-catcher on their roster has been inconsistent, even nonexistent at times.
What makes Richardson intriguing for New England isn't just what he brings to the table in terms of ability, but also two other things: 1) His availability before free agency begins 2) His price point. Because Richardson was just released, he is available to sign with any team he chooses to effective immediately because his contract is voided with the Redskins. He does not have to wait for the tampering period or the free-agency window to open to negotiate or sign with another organization. Because of his injury history and a lack of stats to merit a strong contract, New England has the opportunity to sign Richardson at a modest rate. So, the Patriots could potentially approach Richardson with an incentive-ladened contract which includes games played to guarantee they only pay him if he plays.
While a cheap contract may not be something Richardson is interested in, potentially playing with the greatest QB of all-time may intrigue him. That's why New England should do what they can to sign Richardson before Brady becomes a free agent.