NFL Free Agency 2018: Redskins, Paul Richardson reportedly agree to 5-year, $40M deal

The Redskins‘ new-look offense is beginning to take shape after losing DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Kirk Cousins in a span of two offseasons. First, they traded for quarterback Alex Smith to replace Cousins. And then, on Tuesday, they went out and got Smith a speedy downfield threat.

According to a report from NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Redskins are expected to sign Paul Richardson to a five-year, $40 million deal that includes $20 million in guarantees. Adam Caplan was the first to report on the expectation that the Redskins would sign Richardson at some point this week.

Richardson didn’t hit the market with the same kind of buzz as Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins — which is why he got a $40 million deal when Robinson got $42 million and Watkins got $48 million — but he’s a dangerous playmaker who should pair nicely with Josh Doctson. A second-round pick of the Seahawks in 2014, Richardson blossomed in 2017 (his first 16-game season) when he set career-highs in receptions (44), yards (703), touchdowns (6), and yards per catch (16.0). He averaged 40 yards per catch in 2015, but he caught only one pass that entire season.

The Redskins aren’t just buying those kind of numbers, they’re also buying his potential. Richardson is still only 25 and he’s spent most of his time in an offense that didn’t feature him heavily. It’s not far-fetched to project that the numbers he posted in 2017 are his floor while his ceiling can still be expanded. Usually in free agency, teams overpay for players who are past their primes. The Redskins are doing the opposite here. Our own Pete Prisco had Richardson pegged as one of his five best free-agent buys on the market, given his age and career trajectory.  Dare I say that Washington is actually making a smart move in free agency? 

Richardon’s a burner who’ll immediately become Smith’s best deep threat in Washington. Speaking of which, it turns out Smith’s deep ball is actually lethal. After spending most of his career dinking and dunking other teams (and his own) to death, Smith unleashed his arm in 2017, when he led the NFL with a 131.4 passer rating on passes that traveled at least 20 yards downfield, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Take a look at Richardson’s receptions map, because it shows a receiver who did pretty damn well when he was targeted downfield.

Pro Football Focus

Now, take a look at Smith’s passing map, because it shows a quarterback who was surprisingly deadly downfield in 2017.


Key: Attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, interceptions.
Pro Football Focus

What I’m saying is that this could be a great fit for both parties. Richardson will get money and the bigger role he’s craving while the Redskins can finally begin to see the outline of an offense that could scare opposing defenses.

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