The Seahawks made a big trade prior to the start of the 2017 season, sending one of their top receivers, Jermaine Kearse, as well as second- and seventh-round picks, to the New York Jets for Pro Bowl defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and a seventh-round pick.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has raved about his team’s depth and talent at receiver. That depth was so good, in fact, that the Seahawks felt comfortable parting ways with Kearse, one of their most accomplished pass-catchers, in order to add a playmaker on defense.
Richardson, 26, was a first-round pick out of Missouri in 2013 and has been a four-year starter for the Jets, compiling 242 tackles and 18.0 sacks in his career. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Richardson earned defensive rookie of the year honors in 2013, then was named a Pro Bowler in 2014 when he had 67 tackles and 8.0 sacks.
The addition of Richardson means the Seahawks now have eight players on defense—linemen Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Richardson; linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright; and defensive backs Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman—who have earned Pro-Bowl honors at least once.
Kearse has been a big part of Seattle’s offense since taking over a starting job in 2014, but the Seahawks also have been excited about their depth at receiver leading up to the 2017 season.
“It’s a really good position for us, and it’s going to be some tough stuff to figure out,” Carroll said of the competition at receiver earlier this week.
In addition to Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson, who all played big roles in the offense last season, the Seahawks also return from last season Kasen Williams, who has been a standout this preseason; Tanner McEvoy, who made the team last year as an undrafted rookie and has been a big special teams contributor; and Kenny Lawler, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent last season on the practice squad. Seattle also added a pair of receivers in the draft, third-round pick Amara Darboh and seventh-rounder David Moore, and while J.D. McKissic is listed as a running back, he can also play receiver.
But even if the Seahawks felt like they had the talent on their roster to move on from Kearse, the former University of Washington standout leaves Seattle having left a lasting mark on the franchise.
Kearse didn’t just work his way from practice squad in 2012 to starter from 2014 to 2016, the former undrafted rookie also owns some of the most memorable and significant catches in team history, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime of one NFC championship game, and the go-ahead catch in another NFC championship victory. Kearse also made memorable plays in those Super Bowls he helped Seattle reach, including a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII that saw him break four tackles before sprinting to the end zone for a 23-yard score, and a miraculous juggling catch down the sideline late in Super Bowl XLIX that gave the Seahawks a shot at a go-ahead score.
In addition to coming through in big moments, Kearse was also well respected by teammates for his willingness to do the unglamorous work, both on special teams and as a blocker in the running game. Kearse had also been one of the team’s most reliable receivers, missing only one game since becoming a starter in 2014