Richardson hopes to reward Packers' commitment
For a weekend, Sean Richardson thought he might be playing with the Oakland Raiders this fall.
The Green Bay Packers' fourth-year safety had signed a restricted free agent offer sheet. Unless the Packers matched it, he would be moving to the West Coast, moving to a team that finished last season 3-13.
"I didn't quite know what was going to happen," Richardson said. "If they were going to match or not."
The Packers did match, signing Richardson to a one-year, $2.55 million deal. The contract exceeded the team's initial low tender of $1.54 million, and it will be the 14th-highest average salary against the team's 2015 cap.
Once the Packers matched the Raiders, Richardson said he was happy for the opportunity to return. He's comfortable with the Packers, and he knows his role.
Even when Richardson thought his future might take a turn, he said, he thought about his familiarity with the Packers' system.
"That type of stuff was going through my mind," Richardson said, "with the change, possibility of going out to Oakland, moving and starting over in a new organization and stuff like that. This is a business league, and I understand that everybody has to make business moves.
"It feels great to be on the team I've been with going into my fourth year. I know all the players, and know the system and the coaches, and everything. So it was good. It's good to be back."
Richardson also recognized the confidence general manager Ted Thompson showed in matching the Raiders' offer.
Still, it could be difficult for Richardson to find playing time at safety. Unlike two years ago, when safety was the team's greatest weakness, the position has turned into a strength with defensive captain Morgan Burnett and last year's first-round pick, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Richardson and Chris Banjo will add depth.
Richardson has yet to play 175 snaps in any of his three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. Even if there isn't a substantial defensive role for him, his value could be significant. With a special-teams unit that finished at the bottom of the league last season, according to the Dallas Morning News rankings, the Packers couldn't afford to lose a core special-teams player.
The team already lost veteran cornerback Jarrett Bush when they decided not to bring him back this offseason. Richardson could help fill the void of Bush's leadership on special teams. Last season, coach Mike McCarthy called Richardson the "MVP" of the Packers' third unit.
Richardson said he knew what was expected from him when the Packers decided to make him part of their future.
"It says that they trust me," Richardson said, "and they believe in me, and they think I can contribute to the success that they're having and the success that we're going to have. It means a lot. … Whatever role they want me to play, I'm going to play it to the best of my ability. Just like I also come here, work hard and try to get better every day. Whenever my name and number is called, I'll be ready."