Sheldon Richardson

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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North Rumors: Richardson, Steelers, Ravens

The $3MM incentive package for Sheldon Richardson will center on the interior defender’s sack production. Richardson’s one-year, $8MM Vikings deal will include a $667K bump if he reaches six sacks, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. Should Richardson register eight sacks, that number spikes to $1.3MM. It rises to $2MM for a 10-sack slate. These benchmarks will be difficult to hit. The former first-round pick has only exceeded six sacks once in five seasons (eight in 2014). Richardson can also earn $500K if he makes the Pro Bowl, which he has done once (in that ’14 season). That will increase to $1MM if a first-team All-Pro nod follows the Pro Bowl acclaim, per Goessling.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.

Contract Details: Richardson, Fluker, Pats

Some details on recent free agent deals:

  • Sheldon Richardson, DT (Vikings): One year, $7MM deal. $7.8MM guaranteed ($5.8MM base + $2MM signing bonus). $200K workout bonus. Incentives up to $3MM, but categorized as Not Likely To Be Earned (NLBTE) for cap purposes (Twitter link via Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune).
  • D.J. Fluker, OL (Seahawks): One year, $1.5MM deal. $300K guaranteed. Cap charge of $1.37MM (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com).
  • Marquis Flowers, LB (Patriots): One year, $2.55MM deal. $1.05MM base salary. $200K signing bonus. Up to $400K in roster bonuses plus $50K workout bonus. Incentives package: $100K for playing 30% of the defensive snaps, $300K for 40%, $550K for 50%, and $800K for 60% (In 2017, Flowers played 26 percent of the defensive snaps) (Twitter link via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).

Vikings Notes: Johnson, Richardson, Newman

Now that the Vikings have Sheldon Richardson set to add to an already stacked defense, the team is probably going to move on from previous defensive tackle starter Tom Johnson. Rick Spielman does not expect Johnson to return, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter). The Vikes were previously open to a Johnson re-up, but that was before Richardson agreed to terms. Johnson turned down a $4MM extension offer last year that would have kept him alongside Linval Joseph on Minnesota’s front in 2018. But now, a menacing-looking Joseph-Richardson setup will be deployed. The Seahawks lost Richardson and now have interest in the 33-year-old likely-to-be former Viking.

Here’s more from the Vikings, courtesy of Tomasson.

  • Terence Newman has expressed interest in returning for an age-40 season, and Tomasson tweets he would like that to be with the Vikings. However, he wonders if Newman — who counted nearly $4MM toward Minnesota’s 2017 cap — would be a fit at that price now that major dollars have been allocated for big-name talent this offseason. The Vikings still have nearly $20MM in cap space but also have several key extension candidates entering contract years.
  • Spielman is confident Richardson has left his off-field trouble in the past. The former defensive rookie of the year encountered legal trouble while with the Jets, resulting in suspensions in 2015 and ’16 — the former a four-game ban. “We did a lot of research on that. That was maybe 2 1/2, 3 years ago,” Spielman said, via Tomasson (on Twitter). “We talked to a ton of people about it. … I felt very confident with him coming into this culture into our locker room that he’ll fit right in.’’
  • The Vikings cut Jarius Wright after six seasons on Friday. The team kept him in the loop throughout this process. The 28-year-old pass-catcher added the Vikings alerted him a cap-casualty cut was a possibility. “They had come to me and let me know that it was a possibly with some of the contracts they were looking at,” Wright said, via Tomasson (on Twitter). “They kept me updated.” It’s possible Wright, who was set to make $3.64MM in base salary next season, could be brought back at a lower rate.

Vikings Sign Sheldon Richardson

The Vikings have now landed premier free agents on both sides of the ball. Sheldon Richardson has agreed to a one-year deal with Minnesota, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Richardson’s deal includes an $8MM base salary and $3MM more in available incentives.

The Vikings were the only team known to have met with Richardson and it didn’t take long for a deal to come together. The Vikings wined and dined Richardson a bit on Friday and pitched him with new quarterback Kirk Cousins in tow.

The Vikings used much of their cap space on Cousins, but they still had enough left to sign one of the most talented defensive linemen in this year’s free agent crop, thanks in part to the restructuring of Latavius Murray‘s deal. The 27-year-old (28 in November) had just one sack last season, but the advanced metrics showed that he was still starting caliber, even in a down year.

Richardson did his best work with the Jets, particularly in 2014 when he racked up eight sacks. His production was a bit up-and-down as he was moved at times from defensive tackle to the outside and even to linebacker, but he was a consistent threat.

Richardson, presumably, was after a multi-year deal, but the one-year pact with Minnesota will give him a chance to rebuild his value and potentially cash in next March. He joins an already stacked Vikings D and will pair with Linval Joseph in the middle. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen will serve as the starting bookends with Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and Ben Gedeon filling out the front seven.

The Seahawks have now lost two high-profile defensive linemen in Richardson and Michael Bennett (via trade with the Eagles), but Richardson’s departure should at least net them some return in compensatory picks.

[RELATED: Vikings Depth Chart]

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Price Range Emerges For Sheldon Richardson?

As the Vikings bring Sheldon Richardson in for a visit on Thursday, a price range may be forming.

Richardson may be eyeing a deal in the $11-$15MM-per-year range, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

While Garafolo was quoted as saying during an NFL Network appearance (Twitter link) that the Seahawks have offered Richardson $11MM per year, they have not made any proposals just yet.

A $15MM deal would place him toward the top of that position’s salary spectrum. Five defenders — Fletcher Cox, Kawann Short, Marcell Dareus, Gerald McCoy and Jurrell Casey — earn more than $15MM annually. Four other 4-3 defensive tackles earn at least $11MM AAV.

Considering Richardson’s status as a top-tier free agent, he appears set to try and place himself on that top tier. The former defensive rookie of the year has been a 3-4 defensive end for most of his career, but the 27-year-old talent — who has encountered legal trouble — at his best is one of the top interior defenders in the game.

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