The Seahawks made a bold move Friday, trading WR Jermaine Kearse and a No. 2 draft pick to the Jets for DT Sheldon Richardson, equal parts talent and baggage.
The Seahawks Friday traded popular local (Lakes High School/University of Washington) guy Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets for DL Sheldon Richardson, who apparently has been targeted since not long after top draftee Malik McDowell crashed his ATV and knocked himself out of his rookie season.
The Seahawks also sent second- and seventh-round choices to the Jets, and the Jets sent a seventh-rounder to Seattle with Richardson. The deal was first reported by ESPN.
Kearse, a favorite target of QB Russell Wilson but coming off a down year, caught 153 passes for 2,110 yards and 11 touchdowns in his five seasons with the Seahawks after arriving as an undrafted free agent from the Huskies.
He had a knack for the memorable moment, including the game-winning catch in overtime of the 2014 NFC Championship to beat Green Bay, and a spectacular, rolling dive reception in the Super Bowl against New England that set up the Seahawks inside the five-yard line inside two minutes.
Perhaps most dramatic of all was a catch late in the 2013 NFC Championship against San Francisco, when Wilson’s 35-yard pass on fourth and eight went to Kearse for a touchdown that put the Seahawks up for good.
But the Seahawks seem to have a surplus of talent at the wide receiver spot, presuming that Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson remain healthy behind Baldwin. Another ex-Husky, Kasen Williams, has had a great preseason, and the coaches are high on the upside of rookie third-rounder Amara Darboh of Michigan.
Also, Kearse’s 2018 contract is sizable enough that he was considered unlikely to remain a Seahawk beyond this season.
Meanwhile, Richardson fills the off-season aspiration to restore the defensive line depth that was an integral part of the success of the 2013 that won the Super Bowl.
McDowell was taken with the 35th pick in April’s draft for that purpose. But when he was injured in a still-unexplained accident involving an ATV earlier in the summer, the Seahawks’ plans to rotate McDowell with Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark to keep pass=rushing legs fresher in the fourth quarter went awry.
The return of McDowell, who spent only a couple of days in Seattle getting examined before going home to heal, is still unknown.
Richardson’s talent, however, is well known — as is his ability to mess up off the field.
Richardson, 26, was the 13th pick in the first round of the 2013 draft from the University of Missouri, where he was a teammate of C Justin Britt for a year. A junior college transfer, Richardson played a single season under coach Gary Pinkel before declaring for the draft.
He was named NFL defensive rookie of year in 2013, becoming a four-year starter.
In the spring, the Jets picked up his fifth-year contract option for $8 million. Before taking on that salary, the Seahawks Friday converted most of WR Doug Baldwin’s base salary of $7.75 million to a signing bonus, freeing up $5.2 million under the salary cap for 2017.
Richardson, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, brings baggage.
He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for testing positive for marijuana. On July 14, 2015, not long after receiving his suspension, Richardson made national headlines when he was arrested in Missouri after police said he drove his car in excess of 140 mph attempting to evade them.
Two adults and a 12-year-old were in the car with him, and police reported the smell of marijuana in the car. A loaded handgun was found beneath the driver’s seat.
In January 2016, he was found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest, fined, received two years of probation and ordered into 100 hours of community service. Prosecutors declined to press drug or child-endangerment charges, and Richardson was found to be in proper possession of the firearm.
For the episode, the NFL suspended Richardson for the first game of the 2016 season.
Richardson made more headlines earlier this month when he went on ESPN radio in New York and ripped former Jets teammate WR Brandon Marshall, part of a feud that began the previous season and disrupted the locker room of the Jets, who finished 5-11.
“That man what he did to the locker room,” Richardson said on the Michael Kay Show. “I was the one who addressed it, and I would still address it to this day. If he can’t come out (in the) media and tell them what he did and how he actually quit on his team way before the season was over, that’s all in itself.”
After Marshall signed in free agency with the Giants, Richardson said he had “15 reasons” the locker room is better. Marshall wore No. 15.
“That whole situation was sticky because we were losing, and then you’re doing little things that are drama queen-ish, and he’s dogging out this guy and that guy,” Richardson said. “It’s everybody’s fault except for his. . . . No one wanted to say something to him. Then I say something to him — the criminal, the bad guy — and the media just ran with it.”
Rubin reportedly on trading block
Because of the Richardson acquisition, the Seahawks are seeking to move DT Ahtyba Rubin, perhaps to the Broncos, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 1, 2017
Rubin, 31, joined the Seahawks as a free agent before the 2015 season. He had 36 tackles, two sacks and was fourth among Seattle’s defensive linemen in snaps. He re-upped in 2016 with three-year deal worth up to $12 million. Last year he had 39 tackles, a sack and three forced fumbles.