The Cleveland Browns will have to make some decisions on their defensive line next offseason. Sheldon Richardson’s future, along with many other defensive linemen will be up in the air. Here’s why he may not be on the Browns in 2021.
Let me start off by saying that Sheldon Richardson is a good defensive lineman. I would like to see him on the roster in 2021 and would like to see him retire with the Cleveland Browns. However, that might not be the case with his current contract situation.
Richardson is entering his second year with the Browns, and the second year into his three years, $37 million contract. When 2021 comes around, he will be 30 years old, turning 31 during the season, and have a cap hit of a little over $13.5 million. The dead cap to release him would only be a little under two million dollars, so it could make financial sense to let him go.
The Browns will need to pay Larry Ogunjobi and Andrew Billings after this season if both of them play well. A situation where you have to choose between two younger defensive tackles or one older defensive tackle on the back end of his career could emerge.
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Myles Garrett will need to be paid soon, and it has been reported that he could be in the ballpark of $25 million per year.
With so many mouths to feed, you could see some of the older guys end up as cap casualties. This is speculation, but it seems logical that Sheldon Richardson could become one of these cap casualties during the 2021 offseason.
Last season he played well for the Browns and was one of the most consistent players on defense. However, as we enter 2020, his play will be under a microscope even more. The Browns seemed to have drafted depth in Jordan Elliot, in case they need to get rid of Richardson or some of the other defensive tackles after 2020.
I wouldn’t put it past the Browns to renegotiate Richardson’s contract to keep him on the team, and I think that would be the best scenario for both parties. Spotrac currently has Richardson’s market value at around $9 million. After 2020, this could drop, and the team could see his value be around eight million dollars, which is what he was paid during his one year stint in Minnesota.
During the 2021 offseason, it would make sense to see the Browns renegotiate his contract instead of having it be 1 year left with a base salary of $11.9 million. Maybe he adds an extra year, along with more guarantees, and takes a pay cut to around seven to eight million dollars is a base salary, along with enough guarantees to keep him in Cleveland for the rest of his career.
2020 will be his eighth season in the NFL, and he has already made 38.5 million dollars in his career. I couldn’t imagine he would want to play for his fifth team in 2021 and is probably ready to settle down somewhere.
The Browns should want to keep Sheldon Richardson past 2020 and should be willing to guarantee him more money past 2021. I just don’t see Richardson finishing his current contract unless the cap increases substantially again like it did this offseason.