Packers might let Sean Richardson leave


GREEN BAY, Wis. – General manager Ted Thompson has until Monday to decide whether to match the Oakland Raiders' offer sheet to restricted free agent safety Sean Richardson, but he almost certainly has his mind made up.

And although he probably won't make his decision known until he has to, there's a good chance he already has decided to let Richardson go to the Raiders.

By tendering Richardson at the lowest level of $1.542 million, Thompson essentially revealed the value he placed on the former undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt. The next-highest tender would have cost Thompson $2.356 million, which nearly matches the one-year, $2.55 million offer Richardson got from the Raiders.

Yes, Thompson has matched offer sheets for restricted free agents before; he did so in 2009 when the Tennessee Titans gave Jarrett Bush a three-year, $4.5 million contract, but that deal came much closer to Bush's actual tender. The Packers gave Bush the lowest tender (which at that time was $1.01 million), so the Titans' offer, which averaged $1.5 million per season, was much closer to the tender than where Richardson's offer came in.

Barring an injury to Morgan Burnett or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Richardson has no chance to start this season. Even if something happened to one of the two starters, the coaches would be more likely to go with Micah Hyde than Richardson.

So essentially what they see Richardson as is a No. 4 safety and one of their core special-teams players. That doesn't add up to a $2.55 million player, even though they have still have $17.255 million in available salary-cap space for this season.

No one took the field for more special-teams plays last season than Richardson, and the Packers already have lost two other players near the top of that special-teams participation list. They cut Brad Jones and Brandon Bostick, who ranked third and fourth, respectively, in special-teams playing time and have not re-signed Bush, who ranked second.

But that's not necessarily all bad, considering how poorly special teams performed last season, finishing finished dead last in the Dallas Morning News' annual special teams rankings.

Coach Mike McCarthy replaced special-teams coordinator Shawn Slocum with Ron Zook and plans to be more involved in special teams now that he has given up play calling.