With the potential changes to their defense, it would be a real coup to keep Sheldon Richardson on the line. Is he worth giving up Michael Bennett?
The Seahawks may move several of their biggest stars in the next two weeks. Rumors have been flying about Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman. One player the Seahawks appear to be adamant about keeping is free agent Sheldon Richardson.
Not too long ago, I wrote that the defense could see a huge turnover in personnel. Sadly, it looks like that may not have been too far off. Hopefully Lee’s projected defensive lineup will be more on target than mine. Even then, there are a lot of possible changes coming.
One change no one wants to see is the loss of Sheldon Richardson. We’ve noted before that his impact on the defense goes far beyond his statistics. And he grades out pretty well as it is.
Again, Richardson’s stats are just a small part of the story for him. I wouldn’t go so far as some have and say that he was a major factor in Bobby Wagner‘s great season. Wagner was a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, deservedly so. But it’s not like he wasn’t an All-Pro in 2014 and 2016. Wagner’s made the Pro Bowl four straight years; he can play a little.
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Sheldon Richardson or Michael Bennett: who do you keep?
So Wagner wasn’t exactly chopped liver before Richardson joined the Seahawks. But it is true that Richardson absolutely blew up opposing offensive lines time and again for Seattle. Richardson is definitely worth keeping. The question is, what will the Seahawks give up to make it happen? Michael Bennett, perhaps?
Sheldon Richardson is just 27 years old. Michael Bennett is five years older. Different position, of course, but to pay Richardson, Seattle may have to trade Bennett. There’s that little thing called cap space that we’ve talked about for, oh, forever, it seems. To keep Richardson, the Seahawks will almost certainly have to do more than cut Jeremy Lane and Cliff Avril.
And that’s were Bennett comes in. He grades out extremely well, too, although he’s been on a gradual four year decline, according to Pro Football Focus. As I see it, there are two key differences here. As I said before, Bennett is five years older than Richardson. That’s a lot of extra wear and tear. The age and future productivity mark goes to Richardson.
The other mark in Sheldon Richardson’s favor is the cast at their respective positions. Richardson (83.8) was Seattle’s best defensive tackle in 2017, grading ahead of both Jarran Reed (77.8) and Nazair Jones (75.5). On the other hand, Bennett (80.6) graded below both Frank Clark (81.2) and Dion Jordan (83.6). Yes, Jordan just played in five games, but finally looked like a third overall pick. Out of all of these players, Jordan is the oldest. He’ll turn 28 on March 5th. And he’s actually played 15 fewer games than Clark.
Between the two of them, it just makes more sense to keep Richardson. I hate the thought of it, but Bennett said it himself: