BY Art Thiel 03:30PM 09/03/2017

Thiel: Seahawks get Richardson to get Rodgers

For the Seahawks, the biggest development of the weekend was getting help for next weekend — breaking the spell Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has over Seattle’s defense.

A rare moment in the 2015 game at Lambeau Field when the Seahawks actually disrupted QB Aaron Rodgers. / Jonathan Nesvig, Sportspress Northwest

If you need a single data point to explain the Seahawks’ urgency to acquire Jets bad-boy DT Sheldon Richardson for a second-round draft choice — oh, yes, WR Jermaine Kearse too — here it is:

65-27.

That’s the combined score of the past two games in Lambeau Field against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

You likely know where the Seahawks season opens Sunday.

Any questions? Good. Class dismissed.

But if you’re apt to linger for an elaboration . . .

The Packers are the Seahawks’ primary impediment to a return to the Super Bowl. Rodgers owns the vaunted Seattle defense like a favorite bedtime teddy bear. Snuggles it, sleeps on it, punches it, then leaves it on the floor.

Teddy has lost an eye button, and stuffing leaks from multiple torn seams. For the Seahawks, this is a ghastly indignity.

On Sept. 20, 2015, the Seahawks lost 27-17, and on Dec. 12, 2016, lost 38-10, the latter the single biggest whipping of the Russell Wilson era. That outcome shattered a prideful streak in which the Seahawks had not lost a game by more than 10 points since Kam Chancellor was a single Bam.

It can be argued that the absence of injured FS Earl Thomas in December was a big part of the defeat. The rejoinder is that Thomas was there in 2015.

Cumulatively in those games, Rodgers was 43 for 56 passing, worth 465 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions and a QB rating of 133. That’s not just good, that’s domination.

The Seahawks defense likes to think it is the dominator, not the dominatee. Richardson’s acquisition is all about restoring that description by interrupting Rodgers’ Seattle reverie.

In April, the Seahawks were so eager to create a ruthless four-man rotation among Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark that they ignored all the red flags fluttering from Michigan State’s Malik McDowell and took the immature 20-year-old with their first pick in the draft.

His size and athleticism were so important that they minimized the character flaws.

They paid for it. Friday they tried to make up for it.

With McDowell likely out for the season after a mysterious accident involving an ATV ride that the Seahawks won’t explain, they again skipped past the red flags to acquire an exceptional talent for the position McDowell would have occupied.

This time the cost was a little higher — a similar second-round pick, plus the throw-in of Kearse. While many Seahawks fans who are fond of Kearse for his deeds, roots and personality see him as the prime asset sent away, they would be wrong.

The Seahawks are very reluctant traders of high picks, even if they have a habit of messing them up. But coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider needed a talent to help get Rodgers’ feet moving in directions he doesn’t like, and getting Richardson was seen as the quickest available route to make that happen.

Even if the deal means slogging through an uncomfortable press conference or two about why they would take on a guy who drove his Bentley with a 12-year-old aboard  more than 140 mph on a chase to avoid police in suburban St. Louis.

It’s unclear why the Seahawks insist on filling this D-line position with people with poor driving judgment. But as far as is known, it appears to be a coincidence and not a requirement.

The inclusion of Kearse can be rationalized as giving up an average receiver who likely would have been jettisoned after 2017 because his 2018 base salary is $5 million, up from $2.2 million. But coupled with the decision Saturday to cut Kasen Williams, picked up Sunday by the Cleveland Browns, the Seahawks’ receivers unit behind Doug Baldwin has more than average issues with health and experience.

This could well be the season TE Jimmy Graham gets all the balls he was used to when he played in New Orleans.

But the pass-catching vulnerability is seen by the Seahawks as manageable. For 2017, rushing the passer is the prime directive, partly because the Legion of Boom gets more dinged up with each season.

As to why the Jets would give up on Richardson, the 13th pick in the first round in 2013, they did pick up his fifth-year contract option for $8 million, and they also have two other quality D-linemen, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, who are or will be expensive.

Richardson started each of the past two seasons under NFL suspension, once for marijuana use and once for the driving escapade. And Richardson tends to wear out some of his bosses and teammates. For all of last year and into this month, Richardson carried on a running feud with teammate WR Brandon Marshall, who left in free agency for the New York Giants.

The Jets are relieved to be done with both players. Besides, they coming off a 5-11 season and have chosen Josh McCown, 38, as the starting quarterback, because he’s better than Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg. You can see the Jets have bigger problems than Richardson’s mouth.

Perhaps the biggest inhibitor to Richardson repeating his dubious behavior is that this is his contract year. A strong season could lead to big riches in free agency, whether from the Seahawks or elsewhere.

That opportunity will begin abruptly Sunday, when he helps Teddy back to health by getting in the mustachioed grill of Rodgers.


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    At least if the trade doesn’t work out they can let him walk since he’s in his last year for his contract. On paper this is a good deal but Richardson comes with a lot of baggage, having been suspended last season and the season prior. Tardiness has been an issue and he posted a profane Snapchat video last year. The team captains have their work cut out.

    • art thiel

      They always have their work cut out. The one-year deal limits the long-term damage, but I think he’ll go next year to the highest bidder, which is not likely the Seahawks.