RENTON, WA - Remaining unsigned deep into the offseason, Paul Richardson's main focus hasn't been on playing football over the past several months.
Instead of preparing for a seventh NFL season, the 28-year old veteran receiver has had far more important matters to address. Starting with his expected release from Washington in February, he had experienced a roller coaster of emotions during the middle of a pandemic.
First, there was joy, coming in the form of the birth of a daughter. Then, there was grief, as Richardson lost his grandmother. Through it all, there wasn't much time to think about where he would be suiting up next. Such a decision didn't matter in the scheme of things.
"I didn't have time to focus on other things cause my family really needed me," Richardson told reporters on Sunday. "And obviously, most importantly, my kid needed me."
As a result, when training camps opened earlier this month across the league, Richardson found himself without a team. As life started to settle down around him, he stayed in contact with his agent hopeful he would find a landing spot at some point before the start of the season.
Then, that opportunity finally came knocking. On the other side of the door, the Seahawks had come calling with an offer he couldn't pass up, seeking a reunion with their former second-round pick.
"It feels great to be back," Richardson smiled. "I hope to bring some speed to the team - to add to it, actually - got a lot of fast guys, a lot of playmakers there. I just want to add to the group where I can."
Coming out of Colorado in 2014, Richardson ran a blazing 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, posting one of the fastest times for any position in Indianapolis. On most teams, such speed would easily be the best at the position group, and maybe even on the entire roster.
With this current Seahawks squad, however, as Richardson acknowledged, he might only be the third-fastest receiver in a group featuring DK Metcalf and Phillip Dorsett. Both of those players also produced 4.33-second 40-times at their own respective combines.
Entering his second stint as a Seahawk, much has changed in the two years since Richardson cashed in on a breakout 44-reception, 703-yard 2017 season by signing a five-year, $40 million deal with the Redskins. For starters, there's a different coordinator calling the shots in Brian Schottenheimer.
But while he's encountered an offense that runs at a faster pace than the one he previously starred in coordinated by Darrell Bevell, he's already seeing plenty of similarities between then and now. And though there's new terminology to learn in quick order, he's enjoying the experience thus far.
"The tempo has picked up, it's picked up a lot," Richardson elaborated. "There's a lot of carryover from when I was here before, so it seems it's been a nice mix of what Russell [Wilson] was comfortable with, what he liked and what Schotty was able to bring and incorporate and elevate the offense."
Thrown into the heat of a fierce receiver battle against the likes of David Moore, John Ursua, Cody Thompson, and others, along with learning a different playbook, Richardson will have to show he can stay healthy. He struggled to stay on the field in his first tenure with the Seahawks, including tearing his ACL in the 2014 playoffs as a rookie.
Then in Washington, as one of the main reasons he was left go by the organization just 40 percent of the way through his mega-deal, he landed on injured reserve twice and played a total of 15 games.
"Obviously, I would have liked for it to work out, but it just didn't," Richardson reflected. "But I mean, I'm back where I belong."
Despite his past durability woes, Richardson has maintained his elite speed and can still take the top off defenses as a vertical threat. Back healthy with much to prove and his personal life back in order, coach Pete Carroll is looking forward to seeing that explosiveness back on display as he vies for a roster spot with the Seahawks over the next few weeks.
"We had a chance to get him back, so the competition is really heightened," Carroll commented. "He's a terrific downfield guy and playmaker downfield and we've always loved that about him, so we're just going to put him in the mix and see how it goes."