Sheldon Richardson

NFC Rumors: Bears, Biadasz, Cowboys, Vikings

The Bears made Kyle Fuller a surprise cap casualty shortly after free agency’s outset, and while the team did sign Desmond Trufant, the former well-paid Falcon has struggled with injuries in each of the past two seasons. Chicago has resisted adding more help at the position, and Trufant may not have the inside track to start opposite Jaylon Johnson at outside cornerback. After a strong minicamp, Kindle Vildor may be ahead of Trufant on the track toward a starting job, Adam Jahns of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Although the 2020 fifth-round pick out of Georgia Southern only played 135 defensive snaps as a rookie, new DC Sean Desai mentioned him as an in-house solution to replace either Fuller or departed slot corner Buster Skrine. The Bears going with Vildor alongside Johnson will certainly represent an experience step back, with Fuller and Skrine having combined to play 17 seasons.

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • On a similar note, the Cowboys appear set on a 2020 Day 3 pick taking over at center. Travis Frederick‘s retirement initially thrust Joe Looney into Dallas’ starting lineup, and after fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz replaced an injured Looney early last season en route to four starts, the veteran reclaimed his job after a Biadasz pregame hamstring injury. Biadasz played just one offensive snap in Dallas’ final eight games, but Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News notes the Cowboys plan to use the Wisconsin product as their starter this season. Looney, 30, remains a free agent, while OC Kellen Moore has talked up Biadasz this offseason. Biadasz started three years at center for the Badgers, winning the Rimington Award — given to college football’s top center — in 2019.
  • Some additional details have surfaced on Sheldon Richardson‘s second Vikings contract. The well-traveled defensive tackle agreed to return to Minnesota on a one-year, $3.6MM deal. The Vikings included some incentives in the former Defensive Rookie of the Year’s contract as well. Richardson can collect $250K if he reaches five sacks this season, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets. If Richardson gets to seven sacks, a $500K bonus will await. The team included another $250K bonus if the 30-year-old D-tackle makes the Pro Bowl. Richardson has two five-plus-sack seasons (2014 and ’15) and one Pro Bowl on his resume.
  • The Saints have included an interesting incentive in Ryan Ramczyk‘s extension, but it only will benefit the All-Pro right tackle if he moves to the left side.

Sheldon Richardson Turned Down More Money From Browns To Sign With Vikings

Sheldon Richardson ended his free agency this past week by signing a one-year deal with the Vikings worth $3.6MM with a max value of $4.35MM via incentives.

Apparently, he could’ve gotten a little more than that. The defensive tackle turned down more money from the Browns, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. We had previously heard that Cleveland made an offer, but it wasn’t known what the financials were like.

Kay Cabot writes that Richardson’s decision was “more about principle” after the Browns elected to release him back in April to save around $12MM in cap space. She also says that Cleveland may have been able to get him back had they gone a bit higher than they did, but that they “set their price and stuck to it.”

Richardson signed a three-year, $37MM pact with the Browns in 2019, and made it 2/3 of the way through it. He spent 2018 with the Vikings, so it’s not like he chose a totally foreign environment over returning to the Browns. The 13th overall pick of the 2013 draft turned 30 in November.

Vikings Sign Sheldon Richardson

The Vikings announced that they’ve officially signed Sheldon Richardson. The defensive lineman will play on a one-year, $3.6MM deal that could reach $4.35MM via incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). 

The Vikes effectively handled two birds with one stone. Earlier today, they reworked Danielle Hunter‘s contract to satisfy the defensive end and carve out some extra breathing room on the 2021 cap. Now, they’ve used those extra dollars to further strengthen the defensive line with Richardson.

It’s a reunion for Richardson, who spent the 2018 season in Minnesota. After that, he moved on to the Browns, but he was released in April after refusing a pay cut. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year will further beef up the Vikings’ interior, joining Michael Pierce and newcomer Dalvin Tomlinson. Thanks in part to Pierce’s opt out, the Vikings ranked 27th in yardage allowed last year. It’s safe to say they’ll fare better this time around.

Richardson has 118 career starts to his credit with 31 sacks and 58 tackles for loss across eight seasons. Last year, he graded as a top-40 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus while notching 4.5 sacks and 64 tackles.

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Vikings, Sheldon Richardson Discussing Deal

After spurning a potential return to the Browns, Sheldon Richardson is considering another reunion. The Vikings have the defensive tackle on their radar and have entered discussions to bring him back.

Richardson, who played the 2018 season in Minnesota, is on the cusp of re-signing there, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. KFAN’s Jack Day was the first to report a Richardson-Vikings reunion was on the radar (Twitter link). Richardson spent the past two seasons with the Browns but has opted not to accept a reduced offer to return for a third season. The Browns released Richardson in April.

The Vikings have already devoted considerable resources to their defensive tackle position. Last year, they poached Michael Pierce from the Ravens in free agency. Pierce, however, opted out in 2020. In March, the Vikes added ex-Giants starter Dalvin Tomlinson. Richardson returning would give Minnesota one of the best D-tackle groups in the NFL.

Minnesota’s defense ranked fourth in yardage yielded during Richardson’s Twin Cities season, but a much younger group dropped to 27th in 2020. Mike Zimmer‘s first bad Vikings defense was without Danielle Hunter for all of last season and missed Anthony Barr for most of it. The Vikings now have Hunter back in the fold, after adjusting his contract earlier Monday, and are clearly serious about bolstering their D-line.

A veteran of four teams, Richardson has started 118 games in his career. The former first-round pick and Defensive Rookie of the Year started 16 games with Minnesota three years ago and remained a quality starter during his Cleveland stay. The 30-year-old defender has 31 career sacks and 58 tackles for loss in eight seasons.

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Sheldon Richardson Declines Browns Offer, Plans To Sign Elsewhere

Despite making Sheldon Richardson a cap casualty earlier this year, the Browns wanted to bring him back. However, it looks like the two-year Cleveland contributor will not return to northeast Ohio.

They made the defensive tackle veteran an offer to return, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets, but Richardson is planning to continue his career elsewhere.

[RELATED: Vikings, Richardson Discussing Deal]

Richardson, 30, bid farewell to the Browns earlier this year. That made sense, considering the team released him in mid-April. That move saved the Browns around $12MM in cap space, but Cleveland kept Richardson on its radar and wanted to retain him at a lower price. The longtime D-line starter who entered the offseason with one season remaining on a three-year, $37MM Browns accord remains in search of a new team.

The former Defensive Rookie of the Year certainly could have helped the Browns, who have devoted most of their offseason resources to retooling their defense. At D-tackle, however, the team has lost talent. Prior to Richardson’s release, four-year starter Larry Ogunjobi signed with the Bengals. The team regrouped and signed Malik Jackson but then cut Richardson. The Browns do have former Bengals starter Andrew Billings back; Billings opted out in 2020.

Richardson graded as a top-40 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus, last season. The Mizzou alum registered 4.5 sacks and 64 tackles in his second Browns campaign. He has started 118 career games and missed more than one game in a season just once. The former Jets, Seahawks, Vikings and Browns starter likely will have a new team ahead of training camp.

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Browns Would Consider Bringing Back Sheldon Richardson

Sheldon Richardson was released by the Browns last week, but there’s a chance he lands back in Cleveland. During a conference call on Friday, Browns general manager Andrew Berry said that the team would welcome back Richardson.

[RELATED: Browns Release DT Sheldon Richardson]

“I think it is certainly possible,” Berry said (via Andrew Gribble of the team’s website). “Obviously, it is something that has to work for all parties involved, but we like Sheldon. He was a productive member of our team, a big part of our success last year. If that ends up being the right fit, that alignment is certainly something we would welcome.”

Cleveland’s logic for releasing Richardson in the first place were purely financial, as the team saved $11MM by making the move. Especially after losing Larry Ogunjobi to the Bengals, the Browns could still use a player of Richardon’s caliber. The former first-round defensive lineman started for Cleveland over the past two seasons, collecting 7.5 sacks and 16 QB hits. Pro Football Focus graded the Mizzou product as a top-30 interior defensive lineman in 2019 and slotted him just inside the top 50 at the position last season.

Berry seemed to appreciate Richardson’s stint with the team, although he noted that the team could look to the draft to fill a hole in the middle of their defense.

“Like all positions across the draft, there are a number of good, young prospects who are going to come into the league,” Berry said. “All of that being said, Sheldon is a big loss. He was a big part of what we did last year. He had a really strong presence in our locker room, and we are very thankful for all of the contributions he had. Those are big shoes to fill for sure.”

Cleveland’s current depth chart at defensive tackle includes Andrew Billings, Malik Jackson, Sheldon Day and Jordan Elliott.

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Browns Release DT Sheldon Richardson

Active in adding defensive starters this offseason, the Browns subtracted one on Friday. They released Sheldon Richardson.

The former first-round defensive lineman had started for Cleveland over the past two seasons. The Browns will save $11MM by making this move, one that comes a month after free agency’s outset, while also leaving a void in the middle of their defensive front.

With Larry Ogunjobi having signed with the Bengals, the Browns now no longer employ either of their starting D-tackles from the past two seasons. On a three-year, $37MM deal agreed to in 2019, Richardson was due a $10.9MM base salary in 2021. This move comes two days after the Browns agreed to terms with Jadeveon Clowney. While Richardson and Clowney do not play the same position, the Browns committed to sign the edge rusher for one year and $8MM.

This move will send Richardson into free agency at an inopportune time — following the most significant cap reduction in the cap era and four-plus weeks after the market opened. The Browns did add veteran defensive tackle Malik Jackson — on a one-year, $3.75MM contract — and have Andrew Billings, who opted out in 2020. But the team now figures to be on the hunt for interior D-line help.

The former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Richardson has played with four teams in his eight seasons. The Jets traded him to the Seahawks in 2017, and Richardson signed a one-year deal with the Vikings in 2018. After signing with the then-John Dorsey-run Browns a year later, Richardson accumulated 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits during his two Browns seasons. Richardson did not miss a game during his Cleveland stay.

Pro Football Focus graded the Mizzou product as a top-30 interior defensive lineman in 2019 and slotted him just inside the top 50 at the position last season. While now 30, Richardson will surely generate interest and should have a path to a starting lineup in 2021.

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Browns To Sign Sheldon Richardson

The Browns are signing former Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to a three-year, $36MM deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Browns’ D-Line now looks pretty fearsome with recent pickup Olivier Vernon and Myles Garrett on the bookends and Richardson occupying a space in between. 

Richardson, a longtime Jets standout, was shipped to the Seahawks days before the start of the 2017 season. Then, last year, he signed with a one-year, $8MM deal with the Vikings.

It was a disappointing year for the Vikes, but Richardson had a solid year on an individual level. He finished out with 4.5 sacks and 49 tackles and graded out as the No. 47 ranked interior defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus.

It’s a massive upgrade for Richardson compared to the relatively small deal he settled for last offseason, and his decision to re-enter free agency in 2019 paid off handsomely. The former first round pick had some off-field issues early in his career and face questions about his motivation with the Jets, but he’s mostly put those to rest the past couple of years.

It’s the first splashy free agency signing by the Browns so far, and it likely won’t be the last with all the cap space Cleveland is sitting on.With fellow defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, the Browns now have a very solid run-stuffing duo on the interior. The Browns are looking to build on the momentum they had toward the end of last season, and are focused on building up the defense.

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West Notes: Hawks, 49ers, Broncos, Chiefs

Before he signed with a one-year, $8MM deal with the Vikings in March, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson received a $4-5MM offer to stay with the Seahawks, as he explained to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “The contract they offered me was terrible. It wasn’t what they told me when I left after the exit meetings,” Richardson said. “When my agent told me the offer, I told him, ‘They can keep that.’” Richardson has excelled for Minnesota this season: Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the league’s No. 36 interior defender, while Richardson is tied for sixth among defensive tackles with 14 quarterback hits. Given that he only inked a one-year pact, Richardson will be able to hit the free agent market again in 2019 at the age of 28.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • In her first comments to the media after Reuben Foster was arrested on domestic violence charges in Tampa last month, Foster’s ex-girlfriend Elissa Ennis indicated the 49ers attempted to intervene during Foster’s arrest. It’s unclear whether Ennis was referring to San Francisco staffers or other players, but the club has issued a statement nonetheless. “The 49ers fully cooperated with authorities, assisted in locating Mr. Foster and in no way impeded their investigation,” said the team. San Francisco, of course, immediately waived Foster following the arrest, but he was claimed by the Redskins. Tampa Police are still reviewing the case against Foster, but an arraignment is tentatively scheduled for January 3, tweets Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • The Broncos lost one of their most important offensive players in Emmanuel Sanders on Wednesday, but they did get a little lucky in acquiring fellow receiver Andre Holmes off waivers from the Bills, as Mike Klis of 9News explains (Twitter link). Sanders went down with a torn Achilles at 12:06 MT, and Denver’s doctors had diagnosed him 14 minutes later. When practice ended at 1:20, Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave relayed to the club’s personnel department that he had coached Holmes while the two were in Oakland. Five minutes before the waiver deadline, the Broncos put in a claim on Holmes.
  • Austin Reiter‘s two-year extension with the Chiefs has a maximum value of $5.5MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Reiter, a reserve offensive lineman, will receive a $1MM signing bonus that, as Joel Corry of CBSSports.com notes (via Twitter) will prorate over three seasons given that Reiter signed his new deal before the close of the 2018 campaign. Reiter, 27, was projected to become a restricted free agent next spring, but he’ll now get a little more financial security instead of a non-guaranteed RFA tag. He started four games at center for Kansas City earlier this year while Mitch Morse was injured.
  • Seahawks guard D.J. Fluker is expected to miss several weeks with a hamstring strain, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Fluker, who inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Seattle this year, hasn’t played very well during his first season in the Pacific Northwest, as PFF grades him as a bottom-15 guard among 79 qualifiers. Former undrafted free agent Jordan Simmons will take over at right guard for the time being.

This Date In Transactions History: NFL Suspends Gates, McClain, Richardson

The days leading up to the Fourth of July aren’t necessarily a hotbed of activity in the NFL. But, sometimes, the league office will use the cover of the holiday weekend to drop some unfavorable news. That’s what the NFL did on July 2, 2015 when it announced the suspensions of three notable players. 

Three years ago today, the league announced suspensions for Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson, and Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain. All three players were banned for the first four games of the season – Gates for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy and McClain and Richardson for substance abuse policy violations.

Gates issued a statement soon after the suspension came down, saying that he tested positive for a substance that he was unaware was on the league’s banned list. At the time, it felt like the ban could signal the end of the Gates era in San Diego and the beginning of the Ladarius Green era. Green had flashed his immense physical tools in the past, but was buried behind Gates on the tight end depth chart. Green was productive in Gates’ absence, but Gates came storming back when he took the field and finished ahead of Green in all major statistical categories. In the following year, Green went on to sign an ill-fated contract with the Steelers and Gates remained as the team’s primary tight end.

Richardson’s suspension, meanwhile, probably hurt his standing with his team. Richardson’s suspension gave rookie Leonard Williams a chance to shine and further reinforced the perception of him as a bad teammate. The former first-round pick turned in the worst season of his career to date and lost upwards of $600K in salary and bonus money as a result of the suspension. The Jets tried hard to trade Richardson throughout the 2016 season, but could not find any takers. Then, just before the start of the ’17 campaign, they shipped him to the Seahawks for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick.

McClain’s suspension was the result of violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a fourth time in his NFL career. In a statement, McClain vowed that he would “not break the rules of [his] profession in the future.” Unfortunately, he was unable to keep that promise. In 2016, McClain was suspended for substance abuse yet again, this time for ten games. He later failed another drug test midway through the season, and the NFL slapped him with an indefinite suspension. McClain has reportedly battled an addiction to “purple drank” (a mixture of codeine-based cold medication and soda) and there has been no word of a potential comeback in some time.

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