CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns announced on Friday that the team had terminated the contract of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson joined the Browns in 2019 as an unrestricted free agent and recorded 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble last season.
Over his eight-year career, Richardson has spent time with the Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Jets, who selected him with a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was voted the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and earned Pro Bowl honors in 2014. In 2019, Richardson earned the 2019 PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award.
Releasing Richardson clears the Browns of about $12 million in cap space but leaves a noticeable void on the inside of the Browns defensive line. While there were hopes that a contract restructure might keep Richardson in Cleveland, that move did not happen.
Richardson took to Instagram Friday to say goodbye to the team and the fans, writing "It was just starting to feel like home..AYE Dawg Pound I had a great time....#til next time."
The termination of Richardson's contract comes on the heels of the Browns signing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year, $8 million deal with $2 million worth of incentives on the contract. Clowney's contract also includes four void years, allowing him to only count for $3.87 million against the cap this year.
Clearing the money from Richardson's contract could allow the Browns to be better situated to offer contract extensions to quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward.
Andrew Berry and the Browns will rely on the return of Andrew Billings and Sheldon Day as well as Jordan Elliot and recently signed Malik Jackson to support the interior (in addition to seeing guys like Clowney play inside at times this season) and could be looking to add a defensive tackle to replace Richardson in free agency or in the upcoming Draft.
The Browns hold the following picks for the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland April 29-May 1.
First round: No. 26
Second round: No. 59
Third round: No. 90, No. 92 (Saints pick)
Fourth round: No. 101 (Eagles pick), No. 123
Fifth round: No. 153 (Rams pick)
Sixth round: No. 187
Seventh round: No. 222 (Bills pick)
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.