In the end, Ted Thompson was willing to pay a little extra to get another look at Sean Richardson.
On Monday, the Green Bay Packers general manager matched the offer sheet the restricted free-agent safety signed with the Oakland Raiders last week. The one-year contract is worth $2.55 million, which makes Richardson's the 14th-highest average salary against the Packers' 2015 salary cap.
The deadline for Thompson to exercise his right of first refusal was 3 p.m. CDT Monday and he used nearly all of it before bringing back the 6-foot-2, 218-pound fourth-year player at a higher cost than the low tender he placed on him last month worth $1.54 million.
The move ensures depth behind starting safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and gives the Packers a cornerstone for rebuilding their wayward special teams, which was last in the Dallas Morning News' rankings last season.
Richardson, 25, led the special teams unit last season in snaps (361) and coverage tackles (17), according to the coaches' statistics. It is a lot of money to pay for a special-teams player, but they still have roughly $17 million left in cap room after re-signing Richardson and fullback John Kuhn on Monday.
Richardson has established himself as a reliable special-teams player since he signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2012. The decision to maintain his rights gives the Packers another year to determine whether he can be more.
Although Richardson played only 115 snaps on defense, defensive coordinator Dom Capers was diligent in trying to find ways to incorporate him. The Packers deployed a Big Okie package in which Richardson entered as a third safety in short-yardage situations.
There could be an opportunity for him in the team's sub-packages after the secondary lost cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency.
Whatever happens, Monday was a landmark day in Richardson's career, which was interrupted in 2012 when he herniated a disk in his neck. He missed a full calendar year after undergoing a cervical fusion of his C-5/C-6 vertebrae. He returned late in the 2013 season and hasn't missed a game since.
The Packers came close to being only the second team since 2009 to not match an offer sheet for a restricted free agent. Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, a former Packers executive, attempted to lure Richardson away with more money and an opportunity to compete for a starting job.
The Packers have dropped a lot of their key special-teams players from last season. Linebackers Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore, tight end Brandon Bostick, receiver Jarrett Boykin and kickoff returner DuJuan Harris were all allowed to walk over the last two months.
The Packers have one unsigned special-teamer still on the market in veteran cornerback Jarrett Bush, though he recently posted on his Twitter account that he's recovering from offseason surgery.
Bush, 30, was in Richardson's spot before. When he was a restricted free agent in 2010, Tennessee signed him to a three-year, $4.5 million tender, which the Packers matched. A recurring playoff captain, Bush is the longest-tenured player on the Packers' roster outside of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
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