The Cleveland Browns could use some veteran depth at the defensive tackle position and veteran Sheldon Richardson has been floated as an option for the AFC North squad.
Richardson spent two seasons with the Browns but was released last offseason, signing with the Vikings shortly after. The Browns wanted Richardson back but he wasn’t willing to take a hefty pay cut to remain in Cleveland.
“You know, I started something there. Honestly, just couldn’t come to an agreement with what I wanted from Cleveland,” Richardson said.
Richardson started seven games for the Vikings, notching 39 tackles, six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 18 quarterback pressures last season in Minnesota. He earned an overall grade of 62.1 on Pro Football Focus.
The Browns’ 2020 third-round pick Jordan Elliott and free agent pickup Taven Bryan — a former first-round pick of the Jaguars — are penciled into the starting roles. Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell were the starting tackles a year ago, but neither returned.
Cleveland is also expected to get some production at the defensive tackle position from fourth-rounder Perrion Winfrey, who was named to NFL.com’s Projected All-Rookie Team. The Browns open training camp on July 27.
Richardson Could be Mentor for Young Browns Players
The Browns don’t have a ton of proven talent at the defensive tackle spot and bringing in Richardson to be a mentor and part of the rotation could be a solid move for Cleveland. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com believes it’s something the Browns would consider doing. Per Cabot:
If they decide to add a veteran defensive tackle, they might consider a familiar face in Sheldon Richardson, 31, who played for them in 2019-20 but returned to the Vikings last season rather than take a huge paycut from the Browns.
Richardson, the 55th best defensive tackle in the NFL last season according to Pro Football Focus, is good in the locker room and would be a strong mentor for a young player like fourth-round pick Perrion Winfrey. He also has a knack for keeping Myles Garrett motivated.
As referenced by Cabot, Richardson was a locker room leader during his time in Cleveland and carved out a strong following. However, an average salary of more than $12 million was too pricey for the Browns previously, but they’d likely be open to bringing him back at a lower figure. He played last season in Minnesota on a one-year deal for $3.6 million.
Considering the Browns have the most cap space remaining for the coming year at nearly $45.5 million — per Over The Cap — it’d make sense to squeeze him in with a sensible deal.
Browns Not Interested in Ndamukong Suh
While some rumors have linked the Browns to five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh, there’s no interest from Cleveland to bring him in, per Cabot.
“Reports the Browns are interested in five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh appear unfounded,” Cabot wrote on July 19. “The Browns have been linked to Suh, 35, at various points this offseason, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest.”
Suh, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, spent the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing an integral role on the defensive line. He started 49 contests for the Bucs over that span — not missing a game — totaling 112 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.