Sheldon Richardson Released by Browns After Jadeveon Clowney Contract

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 16, 2021

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 15: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson #98 of the Cleveland Browns during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 38-24. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns announced the release of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on Friday, two days after signing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year contract worth up to $10 million.

Nate Ulrich @ByNateUlrich

Sheldon Richardson bids farewell to #Browns in IG post pic.twitter.com/vtBaaZ3J2z

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported it's basically a salary swap:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The #Browns have released DT Sheldon Richardson, who was due more than $12M this year. Essentially, Jadeveon Clowney’s salary replaced Richardson.

Richardson originally signed a three-year, $37 million contract with the Cleveland in March 2019. His release leaves $1.7 million in dead-cap space for 2021.

The 30-year-old Missouri native recorded 126 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, seven passes defended and four forced fumbles in 32 appearances with the Browns. He received a solid 71.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020.

ESPN's Jake Trotter highlighted the positive impact Richardson had on the Browns' defense:

Jake Trotter @Jake_Trotter

Browns defense with DT Sheldon Richardson on the field vs. off the field the last two seasons (via @ESPNStatsInfo): pic.twitter.com/4kO0ZhQXn5

Richardson was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 with the New York Jets, who drafted him with the 13th overall pick. After four years in New York, he spent one season apiece with the Seattle Seahawks (2017) and Minnesota Vikings (2018) before landing in Cleveland.

The Mizzou product has tallied 461 tackles and 31 sacks in 121 career games, and the 6'3", 294-pound tackle should generate ample interest in free agency since he's hitting the market after most of the offseason's top targets have already found new homes.

Joe Person of The Athletic reported the Carolina Panthers could be among the interested teams depending on the 2014 Pro Bowler's asking price.

Meanwhile, the Browns will likely have a competition between Andrew Billings, Malik Jackson, Jordan Elliott and Sheldon Day during training camp for the two starting spots at defensive tackle.