5 players the Cleveland Browns will miss the most in 2021
2. DT Sheldon Richardson
Moving on from Sheldon Richardson was a necessary evil, as his $13 million cap hit was just too much to justify. Saving that money allows Cleveland to roll over more than $20 million of cap space into next year, which will be used to extend the team’s core players and also allow the Browns to retain the flexibility to sign free agents.
It’s a short-term downgrade to extend the championship window, and because of the other moves made to the defensive tackle room, the overall situation at that position is better than it was in 2020. Much better.
Still, no singular player in that room is as good as Richardson, and it’s probably not close. Richardson was solid for the team over the past two seasons, despite playing in a role that didn’t allow him to make the best use of his skillset.
Without a true one-tech to play next to, Richardson had to deal with more blockers and rushed less than he otherwise would have. Larry Ogunjobi was better off playing as a three-tech, and struggled as a 1T against the run.
Richardson is still on the open market, and the rumblings about a Cleveland reunion just won’t go away. But based on the cost and young talent of the room at the moment, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to swap out one of them for Richardson. That doesn’t mean his absence will not sting; it absolutely will.