For Redskins WR Paul Richardson, a return in 2019 isn’t good enough.
It’s something the Washington Redskins offense has lacked since DeSean Jackson defected to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency in 2017. It’s a quality that maximized Jay Gruden’s offensive output via the passing game in 2015 and 2016. And now, it’s something that the Redskins offense dearly misses.
The Redskins signed former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson in the offseason of 2018, with the intent of implementing him as the team’s new source of this coveted speed. They paid him well enough to do the job: $40 million set over the course of five years, with an average annual value of $8 million, and $15 million of it guaranteed.
Richardson’s first season with the team started out well enough. The Colorado product managed to glean some downfield production from Alex Smith, showing flashes of what a Smith-to-Richardson connection might mean for an offense needing consistency.
Then, however, whatever consistency they hoped to attain fizzled. Richardson suffered from a recurring injury issue, and after an underwhelming performance against the Atlanta Falcons, Richardson was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. He wasn’t on the field when Alex Smith went down. He finished the year with 20 receptions, 262 yards, and two touchdowns.
Now, in 2019, the Redskins have serious questions at both quarterback and wide receiver once again. It’s almost as if nothing’s changed. But Richardson can work toward changing that.
Making around the same annual amount as other key NFL contributors such as Marvin Jones and Taylor Gabriel, Richardson wasn’t tasked with being a primary reserve in Washington’s receiving core. Richardson was paid to be a key part of the offense, and in 2018, we saw glimpses of what his speed and route running savvy could do, and what effect it could have toward opening up the field.
Richardson’s skeleton key only works, however, if he’s healthy, and if he stays healthy. A simple return in 2019 isn’t good enough for the Redskins’ premier 2018 free agent. Richardson needs to do whatever he can to get healthy, and stay healthy. He has the skill set to make a quarterback’s job easier. But to do that, he has to be able to do his job as well.