The Black Cats beat Southampton 2-1 on Saturday to give themselves a boost in the race for survival - even though they still sit in the bottom three.
Should they manage to stay up, Sunderland will be expected to not only appoint a longer-term manager than interim boss Dick Advocaat, but also bring in a raft of new players - and The Mirror expect the Black Cats to pursue a deal for Manchester City defender Richards.
Richards, 26, is currently on loan with Italian side Fiorentina, but will be a free agent this summer when his Manchester City contract expires.
Able to play at right back and centre back, Richards could be in demand this summer, and he would certainly be an improvement on Sunderland's current defensive options.
Sunderland's alleged interest in Richards is likely to be driven by sporting director Lee Congerton, who set up a deal to sign the former England international last summer according to the Daily Mail - only for the move to be blocked by then-manager Gus Poyet.
Now with Poyet gone, Richards could finally end up at the Stadium of Light - if Sunderland get their way in the transfer market this summer.