The Cleveland Browns have made their first move in the free agency period, reportedly agreeing to terms with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
The Cleveland Browns have agreed to terms with free agent defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, according to multiple reports. The agreement was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The 28-year-old defensive tackle plans to sign a three-year deal worth $39 million with the Browns when the new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m., according to Schefter.
Richardson was a first-round selection by the New York Jets in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014. During his six-year career, Richardson has made 333 total tackles, 49 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles.
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Richardson spent the 2018 season with the Minnesota Vikings, starting all 16 games. He made 49 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 16 quarterback hits. Since entering the NFL in 2013, Richardson has only missed seven games.
Richardson will join a Browns defensive line that has become a formidable unit. He will be starting with Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, and Olivier Vernon. Currently, the average age of the Browns starting defensive line is 25-years-old.
The Browns were looking to find more pass rushers this off-season, and that’s what they have done so far with the additions of Richardson and Vernon. Adding Richardson to the interior will create a lot of problems for offensive lines to figure out who they want to double-team.
Although Richardson is a solid pass rusher, he is also stout against the run. The Browns allowed the fifth most rushing yards last season, giving up 135.2 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. The addition of Richardson up the middle should help cut down the opponent’s rushing attack.
The Browns were expected to be aggressive in adding to their defensive line. The unit did not have much depth last season, creating a lot of fatigue issues late in games. Before the new league year has even started, the Browns have already beefed up their defensive front with the additions of Vernon and Richardson.
It seemed like a priority for general manager John Dorsey to find a defensive tackle to pair next to Ogunjobi. Ogunjobi had a solid 2018 season, but struggled during the second half of the season after suffering a biceps injury. By finding a strong three-technique, it will take pressure off Ogunjobi on the interior.
Despite this signing, the Browns are expected to remain aggressive in free agency. They have also been linked to free agent wide receiver Tyrell Williams and free agent cornerback Bradley Roby. Cleveland was also one of the teams targeting C.J. Mosley before he agreed to sign with the New York Jets.