It saved the organization $12 million in cap space, but left a huge hole to fill on the defensive line.
They brought in veteran tackle Malik Jackson, but waited until draft day before deciding to add more depth to the defensive tackle spot.
Since then, Cleveland has added a handful of tackles and should be covered heading into the 2021 campaign.
Despite that, it appears both the Browns and Richardson have left the door open for a possible return.
Sometimes, organizations cut a player just to save cap space and it has nothing to do with performance.
That was the case here with the release of Richardson earlier this offseason.
In 2020, Richardson finished with 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and three passes defended in 16 games.
It was looking like he revived his career in Cleveland, but the Browns didn’t want to pass up a chance to save over $10 million in cap space.
Despite the abrupt release, Richardson doesn’t have any hard feelings against Cleveland and general manager Andrew Berry would welcome him back on the roster.
“Sheldon was a big part of our success last year,” GM Andrew Berry said. “We love his presence in our locker room. Those decisions are always difficult. But we’re certainly incredibly open to a return, realize that it’s something that has to match on both sides. And so we’re certainly respectful of that and understand it, but would welcome Sheldon back with open arms for sure.”
It sounds like the two sides are still on good terms and understand it was a business decision.
At the moment, it is uncertain how interested Richardson is in coming back to Cleveland.
However, head coach Kevin Stefanksi would welcome him back without a doubt.
“I’d definitely say he’s on our radar and I’m hopeful,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I know Andrew and his agent have kept an open dialogue. Sheldon knows how I feel about him. Really good football player. And if it can work out, it’ll work out. I know it’s something that he’s going to talk about and think about and work with his agent on. But from our end, we’d be thrilled to bring him back.”
At least the Browns are open to the idea of Richardson returning, which is not something many teams do after releasing a player.
A Reunion In Sight?
Richardson lived up to expectations during his first two seasons in Cleveland.
However, the organization moved on from both Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi this offseason.
That quickly changed with the addition of Tommy Togiai in the fourth round of the draft.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 1, 2021
After the draft, Cleveland signed undrafted Florida State tackle Marvin Wilson.
They continued adding on with Malik McDowell and veteran Damion Square.
The Browns went from having nothing to an abundance of defensive tackles.
Fans shouldn’t rule out Richardson returning, but it seems unlikely given the amount of depth the Browns have at the position.
He’d likely have to accept a fairly minimal salary, which could happen since Cleveland would be one of the best spots, assuming Richardson is trying to win a championship.
However, Richardson is well deserving of a fair contract and a starting spot on a roster, so it seems unlikely that he returns to Cleveland this season.