NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Imagine being Jermaine Kearse right now.
The veteran wide receiver was all set to be a contributor for the powerhouse Seattle Seahawks this season, but now he’s headed to the Jets, perhaps the worst team in the NFL.
The Jets took another step toward the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft on Friday, trading stud defensive end Sheldon Richardson to Seattle for Kearse and a second-round pick. The teams will also swap seventh-round picks in next year’s draft.
According to the Seahawks’ depth chart, Kearse was set to start opposite Doug Baldwin. Now he will become the undisputed No. 1 receiver for the Jets, who have very little experience at the position.
In his sixth season out of Washington, Kearse has 153 receptions, 2,110 yards and 11 touchdowns in 69 career regular season games, all with the Seahawks. Last year, the 6-foot, 210-pounder had 41 catches, 510 yards and one touchdown.
Not that he’ll get the opportunity with the Jets, at least right away, but Kearse has proven to be a very good postseason performer. He has 31 catches, 493 yards and six TDs in 10 career playoff games, including four catches, 65 yards and a TD in the Seahawks’ 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Kearse signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with the Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent before the 2016 season.
Richardson’s time with the Jets was filled with more lows than highs, despite his unlimited potential as a player. The dynamic defensive end had 18 sacks and 242 total tackles over his first four seasons, often playing alongside Muhammad Wilkerson.
Last year, Richardson finished with just 1.5 sacks and 62 tackles in 15 games, but he also played in a rotation because the Jets took highly touted end Leonard Williams with the sixth pick in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Richardson, himself a former first-round pick, also had his issues off the field, including a failed drug test that resulted in him being suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season. On July 14 of that year, 12 days after his drug ban was announced, Richardson was arrested for driving 143 mph during an apparent road race in St. Charles County, Missouri.
Simply put, Richardson seemed to outlast his welcome in New York. Most recently, Jets coach Todd Bowles expressed his displeasure with Richardson’s comments accusing former teammate Brandon Marshall of quitting on the team last season.
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said Richardson’s comments were not a factor in making the deal.
“The simple answer is no,” Maccagnan said. “I will say this: From our standpoint and as an organization, we’ve really liked Sheldon. From that standpoint, that had no bearing on anything we decided to do.”
Richardson is entering the final year of his rookie deal and had played well during the preseason, but the bottom line is the Jets have a lot of holes, especially on offense, and Richardson was expendable.
“We just thought it was a good opportunity and a good fit and good value for what we’re trying to accomplish, both short- and long-term,” Maccagnan said.
Richardson, who was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and made the Pro Bowl the year after, will now join a vaunted Seattle defensive front that includes Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
The Jets are in the midst of a massive rebuilding project that has seen them cut tens of millions of dollars off their payroll. Among the players released during the offseason were veteran center Nick Mangold, receivers Marshall and Eric Decker, linebacker David Harris and cornerback Darrelle Revis.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)