SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks have made a big splash for their top-notch defense just before the start of the regular season.
Seattle acquired defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets on Friday in exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 second-round draft pick, bolstering a defense that was already considered among the best in the NFL.
The clubs will also swap seventh-round picks in 2018 as part of the deal.
Landing Richardson solidifies the interior of Seattle’s defensive line and quells some of the concerns raised by the uncertainty surrounding rookie second-round draft pick Malik McDowell, who was injured in a July ATV accident. Richardson has spent his entire career with the Jets after being picked in the first round in 2013 and he was a Pro Bowl selection after the 2014 season, when he recorded a career-high eight sacks.
Richardson was a standout for the Jets — although he had a disappointing 2016 season — but 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 GM 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 can be a dominant interior lineman and he now joins one of the best defenses in the NFL. Seattle already has Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark as anchors and now adds an interior talent with the proven ability to stop the run and be a presence as a pass rusher. The addition of Richardson means eight of the 11 projected starters on defense have been voted to at least one Pro Bowl in their careers.
Richardson is entering the final year of his rookie deal and had played well during the preseason.
“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.
Kearse was a polarizing figure among fans but one of the most consistent wide receivers during Pete Carroll’s tenure in Seattle. Kearse’s best season was 2015 when he had 49 receptions and five touchdowns in the regular season. He also had some of the more famous catches in franchise history, including a fourth-down touchdown in the 2013 NFC championship game, the winning TD catch in overtime of the 2014 NFC title game and a juggling catch late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against New England that would have far different context if not for Malcolm Butler’s interception that followed.
Kearse signed a $13.5 million, three-year deal with the Seahawks before the 2016 season but became expendable because of Seattle’s depth at wide receiver. He’ll become a primary target with a Jets team in desperate need of experienced pass receiving options.
The Jets lost No. 1 wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season due to a neck injury early in training camp.
Kearse immediately becomes the most accomplished receiver on the Jets roster with Kenbrell Thompkins and Robby Anderson the most experienced receivers on the roster prior to Kearse’s arrival.
Seattle made a second trade on Friday, sending a 2018 seventh-round pick to New England in exchange for cornerback Justin Coleman. Coleman was briefly on Seattle’s practice squad two years ago before being signed to New England’s active roster. He appeared in 10 games in each of the past two seasons with the Patriots.
AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.