CLEVELAND — Days after adding free agent end Jadeveon Clowney to their defensive line, the Browns terminated veteran tackle Sheldon Richardson’s contract after two seasons.
Richardson’s release is surprising because he played well since joining the Browns before the 2019 season. The 6-foot-3, 294-pounder started all 16 games last season, finishing with 64 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks.
A first-round pick of the Jets, Richardson was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. He spent four seasons with New York and one each with Seattle and Minnesota before signing a three-year, $37 million contract with the Browns.
His release opens an additional $12 million in salary-cap space for Cleveland.
The 30-year-old Richardson was solid against the run and considered a leader for the Browns’ young defense. He was voted the team’s Dino Lucarelli Good Guy Award winner by local writers in 2019 for his cooperation with the media.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry has revamped Cleveland’s defense this offseason with the signings of Clowney, safety John Johnson III, cornerback Troy Hill, end Takk McKinely and tackle Malik Jackson.
Richardson’s departure could mean the Browns will address their interior line depth in the upcoming NFL draft. Cleveland currently has the No. 26 overall pick.
started all 16 games and totaled 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Initially a first round pick by the Jets in 2013, Richardson was voted the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, named a Pro Bowler in 2014 and was voted the winner of the 2019 PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award.