The Cleveland Browns released defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson earlier this offseason, but could he make a return to the team?
The answer to that question is yes, at least according to Mary Kay Cabot, of Cleveland.com.
Richardson’s release was a surprise to some as the defensive tackle was a productive player in his two years in Orange and Brown, but what it came down to was money, which after all, the NFL is a business.
Cleveland was set to pay Richardson $13 million in 2021, a number that was just a bit too high for general manager Andrew Berry to want to pay. They took a dead cap hit of $1.6 million with the release, which isn’t all that much in the long run.
When asked about the possibility of Richardson returning this season, Berry thought it was a move that was possible.
“I think it is certainly possible,” G.M. Andrew Berry told reporters via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.” “Obviously, it is something that has to work for all parties involved, but we like Sheldon. He was a productive member of our team and a big part of our success last year. If that ends up being the right fit, that alignment is certainly something we would welcome.”
Berry has done a tremendous job of rebuilding the defense this offseason, including bringing in a plethora of defensive linemen. Some of those names include Malik Jackson, Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, while also drafting Tommy Togiai in the draft.
The defensive line room is very crowded, even if the Browns don’t bring back Richardson. With that being said, should Richardson return, it will only enhance the competition in the room. This competition should be a good one to watch over the course of training camp.
Richardson will only bolster everyone around him, as he has proven to be a quality player for the Browns, both on and off the field as one of the leaders of the team. Young guys could potentially learn a lot from the eight-year veteran.
In his two years with Cleveland, Richardson compiled 126 tackles (78 solo), 7.5 sacks, nine tackles for losses, and 16 tackles for loss. He also had 7 passes defended and four forced fumbles. He played in 32 games, making 31 starts.
Cleveland reuniting with Richardson would be a great move for everyone involved, should the two sides agree to the right terms. If Berry and the Browns can possibly cut the number of $13 million Richardson was initially owed in half, that a no-brainer deal to get done.
If he returns, he already knows the defensive playbook, which he can help young and or newer players with, while also giving defensive coordinator Joe Woods comfort in putting him in the rotation. Should he elect to sign elsewhere, he would have to essentially start over with a completely new system and set of teammates.
Time will ultimately tell whether or not Richardson returns, but the move makes sense for both him and the organization if the price is right.