The Minnesota Vikings made another free-agency splash on Tuesday by bringing back defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who played for the team in 2018.
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Richardson, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and was an integral part of one of the league’s top defensive fronts. Richardson led all defensive linemen with 64 tackles, and his 10 QB hits, five tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks all ranked third on the team.
The Browns cut Richardson in March to clear $12 million in cap space after signing Jadeveon Clowney. Cleveland expressed it’d love to have Richardson back if he didn’t find a better opportunity, per Cleveland.com.
Richardson was still on the Browns’ radar through June, but on Monday, a league source told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that Richardson was ready to “move on” from the organization hours before signing with the Vikings was announced.
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‘It Wasn’t About the Money’
In Cabot’s initial report of Richardson’s readiness to move on, she claimed that Richardson’s departure from the Browns was about more than just money.
“Richardson pondered returning, and might’ve received a better offer from the Browns, but it wasn’t about the money for him,” Cabot wrote.
If Cabot’s report is true, Richardson clearly had warm feelings from his time in Minnesota in 2018 and potentially took less money to reunite with the Vikings. Meanwhile, Minnesota has undoubtedly become a destination for veteran talent looking to make a postseason run.
Longtime Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has maintained the potential the Vikings have this season.
“You got Anthony Barr, Harrison (Smith), myself, D-Hunter, I know I’m forgetting some people, but we’re loaded,” Peterson said in March at the time of his signing. “If we can come in here and stick to the three core values around here, I believe it was ‘unity, commitment and relentless(ness),’ you get all 53 guys on the same page… we have a chance to do something pretty special.”
Reinforced Defensive Front
Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after being selected No. 13 overall, has been a consistent force in the NFL even after his lone Pro Bowl appearance in 2014, when he tallied eight sacks as a defensive end.
Richardson has played in 15 or 16 games in all but one of his eight NFL seasons. After a pair of down years where he tallied fewer than two sacks in 2016 and 2017, Richardson has enjoyed a resurgence, averaging four sacks over the past three seasons as an interior lineman.
Joining Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson, Pierce is likely the No. 3 defensive tackle in Minnesota with priority on passing downs. Richardson has 31.0 sacks in his career compared to 11.5 between Tomlinson and Pierce’s eight combined seasons.
Richardson’s arrival comes in the wake of Danielle Hunter reworking his contract and appearing at team activities for the first time this season.