SEATTLE – The Seattle Seahawks have made a big splash for their top-notch defense just before the start of the regular season.
The Seahawks acquired defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets on Friday in exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round draft pick, bolstering a defense that was already considered among the best in the NFL.
Seattle will also send a 2018 second-round pick to the Jets and the clubs will swap seventh-round picks in 2018 as part of the deal.
It's clear Seattle believes it is a championship contender and Richardson is one of the pieces that could put them over the top.
Landing Richardson, a former University of Missouri star, solidifies the interior of Seattle's defensive line and quells some of the concerns raised by the uncertainty surrounding rookie second-round draft pick Malik McDowell, who was injured in a July ATV accident. Richardson has spent his entire career with the Jets after being picked in the first-round pick in 2013 and was a Pro Bowl selection after the 2014 season, when he recorded a career-high eight sacks.
Richardson was a standout for the Jets – although he had a disappointing 2016 season – but seemed to outlast his welcome in New York. Most recently, Jets coach Todd Bowles expressed his displeasure with Richardson's comments last month accusing former teammate Brandon Marshall of quitting on the team last season.
But Richardson can be a dominant interior lineman and joins one of the best defenses in the NFL. Seattle already has Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark as anchors and now adds an interior talent with the proven ability to stop the run and be a presence as a pass rusher. The addition of Richardson means eight of the 11 projected starters on defense have been voted to at least one Pro Bowl in their careers.
Richardson is entering the final year of his rookie deal and had played well during the preseason.
Kearse was a polarizing figure among fans but one of the most consistent wide receivers during Pete Carroll's tenure in Seattle. Kearse's best season was 2015 when he had 49 receptions and five touchdowns in the regular season. He also had some of the more famous catches in franchise history, including a fourth-down touchdown in the 2013 NFC championship game, the winning TD catch in overtime of the 2014 NFC title game and a juggling catch late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against New England that would have far different context if not for Malcolm Butler's interception that followed.
Kearse signed a $13.5 million, three-year deal with the Seahawks before the 2016 season but became expendable because of Seattle's depth at wide receiver. He'll immediately become a primary target with a Jets team in desperate need of experienced pass receiving options. The Jets lost No. 1 wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season due to a neck injury early in training camp.
After Enunwa, the Jets' most-experienced receiver was Marquess Wilson, who had 56 career catches for 777 yards and three touchdowns in four seasons in Chicago. Next is second-year receiver Robby Anderson, who made the team last summer after being an undrafted free agent and finished with 42 catches for 587 yards and two scores.
Kearse immediately becomes the most accomplished receiver on the Jets roster.