This week, the Raiders made a move that left some people scratching their heads. They signed Packers restricted free agent safety Sean Richardson to an offer sheet for a reported 1-year, $2.55 million.
That figure seems pretty rich for a reserve safety. So, I dug around to figure out why the Raiders would extend such a deal.
First, here is what Evan Western from Packers blog Acme Packing Company said about Richardson:
Richardson was a special teams standout for the Packers last year, but he has never been more than the team's fourth safety on defense. He was on the field in certain sub packages, and as such he rarely played more than 10 snaps in a game last season. He's big and physical, though, and he plays with an edge to him - he's a big hitter and solid tackler, but as you might expect that leaves him lacking somewhat in coverage. He definitely would be best utilized as an in-the-box safety.
He came to Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2012, and had some injuries in his first two seasons, so last year was the first season in which he played in all 16 games. However, because he was used so sparingly, it's tough to project what he could become if given significant snaps. All in all, Packers fans were happy to have him back on the minimum Restricted Free Agent tender, but it was a bit surprising to see someone else trying so hard to pry him away from Green Bay. Frankly, I highly doubt Ted Thompson will match Reggie McKenzie's offer, and I think he's right not to - for a guy who still will be a backup safety and special teamer for the Packers, $2.5 million is too steep a price tag.
What I got from this was a considerable resemblance to that of a recent former Raiders player - Hiram Eugene.
There are so many similarities, it's uncanny. Eugene was 6-2, 200 pounds. Richardson is 6-2, 216 pounds. Both were undrafted and both are reserve safeties who carved out an NFL career as a special teams maven.
Richardson was tied for 14th in the NFL last season in special teams tackles (11) and had just 2 missed tackles. Hiram Eugene's last full season in 2010, he was third in the NFL in special teams tackles (18), which is how he earned a new contract.
Prior to the 2011 season, Eugene was signed to a 4-year, $10.25 million deal. That equals out to an average of $2.56 million per season. Richardson's proposed contract is $2.55 million. The contract figures are nearly identical over one season, but Eugene's deal was five years ago, which makes Richardson's deal look pretty decent by comparison.
Besides, you don't sign an RFA to an offer sheet if you expect their current team to easily be able to match it.
The new regime cut Eugene in the 2012 preseason but it was mainly because of injury. His services on special teams was quite valuable. He also filled in at safety a few times and was serviceable.
Too many times the value of a player is figured only in what they do as a position player. Then come the season, when the special teams gives up big returns or can't make any decent returns of their own, those same people curse how terrible the special teams play is.
It only takes one guy to make the tackle on special teams or lay that key block. For four seasons, that guy in Oakland was often Hiram Eugene. Now they are looking to find him again in Sean Richardson.