Browns Linked to Reunion With Pro Bowl Defender as Season Draws Near

Getty Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson #98 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns still have a few position groups to round out before the start of their regular season just nine days from now.

Chief among them is the interior of the defensive line, namely the tackle spot, where just four players are listed on the depth chart, per ESPN. Three of those four players — starting left tackle Jordan Elliot, his backup Tommy Togiai and rookie reserve Perrion Winfrey — have a combined three years of professional experience and just four regular season starts between them. Starting right tackle Taven Bryan, a former first-round pick, came over to Cleveland this offseason after he failed to live up to his draft position with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The lack of depth, experience and proven talent at the position lends itself to the notion that the Browns, equipped with nearly $39 million in available cap space as of Friday, September 2, should be combing the free agent market for an upgrade along the defensive line. The fact that a couple of quality contributors with name recognition remain available adds even more incentive and urgency to the Browns’ situation.

One such player is Sheldon Richardson, a one-time Pro Bowler with the New York Jets, and a member of a the Browns roster in 2019 and 2020.

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Richardson Could Help Browns Immediately on Defensive Line

Getty ImagesFormer Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson remains a free agent as of September 2, 2022.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report on Wednesday, August 31, put together a list of the top 10 NFL players available following roster cuts. Richardson occupied the No. 9 spot.

Richardson is 31 years old and has played on three different teams over the last five seasons. The veteran won’t put up a flashy stat line, but he is a solid defensive tackle who can contribute as a rotating three-technique.

Richardson posted a respectable 62.1 Pro Football Focus grade with the Minnesota Vikings last season while notching 2.5 sacks and six tackles for loss.

As injuries begin piling up and young players struggle in bigger roles, Richardson profiles at least as a rotational player. He played 57 percent of the defensive snaps in Minnesota last season.

Richardson could potentially be much more than a rotational option for the Browns, where he started 31 of 32 regular season games across his two-year stint, per Pro Football Reference. He tallied 126 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks, seven passes defensed and four forced fumbles during his tenure in Cleveland.

Browns Could Also Target Free Agent Ndamukong Suh

Ndamukong Suh

GettyDefensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reacts in the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 3, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Perhaps an even better option for the Browns is free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro who has missed only two games in his 12-year career.

Suh recently voiced interest in joining the Browns, though the problem is with his contract demands. The NFL ironman is seeking an annual average salary of approximately $9 million, which is more than the Browns are looking to pay for the position.

Brad Stainbrook of The Orange and Brown Report tweeted on Wednesday that while the Browns are looking to add a defensive tackle to the mix, there is “nothing happening” with Suh at the moment. He added, however, that Suh will continue to check in with the Browns over the coming days.

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