- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When the Redskins let DeSean Jackson walk in free agency last year, they lost an element of speed. Without a blazing deep threat, the Redskins offense didn’t have the same punch.

On Tuesday, the Redskins sought to solve that problem.

Washington and former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson agreed to a five-year, $40 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. The deal, which can become official on Wednesday, would slot Richardson, 25, into Jackson’s old speedburner role.

And man, does Richardson look like a perfect fit.

He ran a 4.4 at the scouting combine in 2014 and was taken in the second round. He is coming off his most successful year as a pro, recording 44 receptions for 703 yards with six touchdowns. Of his 44 catches, 13 went for 20 yards or more.

In Seattle, Richardson’s average target traveled 15 yards in the air, which ranked 10th in the NFL. During Jackson’s last year in Washington, his average target traveled 16.3 yards in the air.

On paper, the Redskins have a talented group of playmakers to support the newly acquired Alex Smith. Richardson, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder are the team’s top receivers, while tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson can be dynamic.

The question becomes if the group can stay healthy — and Richardson’s track record is spotty in that regard. He played 16 games in 2017 for the first time in his career, but he’s torn his ACL twice (once in 2015 and another at Colorado in 2012). He was limited to just one game in 2015.

But the Redskins had salary cap space, a projected $31 million, to work with and they didn’t have significant money committed at wide receiver.

The signing was one in a day of significant NFL news and moves, including:

⦁ Cornerback Bashaud Breeland will leave the Redskins to join the Carolina Panthers. Breeland, the Redskins’ former No.2 corner, agreed to a three-year, $24 million with $11 million in guarantees, according to the NFL Network.

Recently released cornerback Dominique Rodgers Cromartie is visiting the Redskins, according to reports. If signed, he would be an option to fill Kendall Fuller’s spot at nickel.

⦁ Soon-to-be Redskins quarterback Alex Smith said goodbye to fans in Kansas City — and hello to fans in the District. “And Washington? Let’s build something great together,” he said.

⦁ Speaking of Kansas City, the Chiefs added wideout Sammy Watkins for new starter Patrick Mahomes. It only cost them a whopping $48 million over three years ($30 million guaranteed)

⦁ The Chicago Bears also added weapons for their young quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky can now enjoy throwing to wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton. Robinson is the most prolific of that group, agreeing to a three-year, $42 million with $25 million guaranteed.

⦁ Drew Brees is staying put in New Orleans, as most expected. He re-upped with a new two-year, $50 million deal.

⦁ The Green Bay Packers surprisingly reversed course and landed a high-profile free agent, going against the philosophy of former general manager Ted Thompson. They added tight end Jimmy Graham — a player Aaron Rodgers will very much appreciate.

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