New Browns DT Sheldon Richardson anxious to make Cleveland home

Richardson believes opponents will have to pick their poison trying to stop new defensive front

Daryl Ruiter
March 18, 2019 - 6:52 pm

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Prior to the Browns calling last week, Sheldon Richardson had been yearning to put down new roots.

He’ll finally get his chance in Cleveland, his fourth stop in as many years.

After being dealt by the Jets to Seattle in 2017, Richardson spent 2018 in Minnesota before signing a three-year deal worth $37 million with $21 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus, with the Browns last week.

“I wanted to get off of the one-year deal thing,” Richardson said. “I wanted to find a home and make myself a dominant force in one organization and not just get passed around.”

Last year Richardson started all 16 games for the Vikings where he had 49 tackles, 4.5 sacks, six tackles for loss and 16 QB hits but his impact in the middle of Minnesota’s defensive front couldn’t just be quantified in a box score.

“I do things here and there that might not show up on the stat sheet, but I definitely, definitely feel like I am still one of the elite D linemen in the league,” Richardson said. “I just have not had a chance to find a home yet. I think that I have found it here.”

While admitting the importance of securing a multiyear contract this offseason, the talented defensive tackle was candid in acknowledging why he’s bounced around in recent years.

“It is easy – me getting into trouble after my second year in the league,” Richardson said. “I guess they thought that the spotlight was too big for me or my maturity level was not where it needed to be or whatever. I just never really had a chance to make it a home. Cleveland was the one who gave me my chance, and I am going to make due of it, period.”

The Jets selected Richardson 13th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, a pick that was a byproduct of the Darrelle Revis trade with Tampa Bay. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Richardson was suspended again by the NFL for the first game of the 2016 season, this time for violating the personal conduct policy. The suspension came as a result of a July 2015 arrest in St. Charles County, Missouri where he was later found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest after reportedly topping out at 143 miles per hour during a police chase.

Richardson doesn’t believe he’s a different person, just a changed one.

“I just grew up, that is all. Simple as that,” Richardson said. “I was 24 in a Bentley. I was having a good time, and that is it.”

Richardson, who has 23.5 sacks, 49 tackles for loss, 76 QB hits, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and a safety on his resume, was sent by New York to Seattle for Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 second-round draft pick in September 2017.

He’s since tried to put those mistakes behind him, but the frequent stops have also forced him to explain himself to teams, and reporters repeatedly.

“Just because I made a mistake does not make me a bad person,” Richardson said. “Me personally, I have been past it for a while now. It is just that every time I get traded to another team, something there pops up. I just have to carry light luggage. That is how I look at it.”

Richardson, now a father, has matured with age and experience.

“Things back then that impressed me do not impress me now,” Richardson said. “I have a daughter now so I can’t be doing 150 (miles per hour) on the highways anymore. I have a little bit more to live for than just myself now.”

Richardson joins a defensive front that includes Pro Bowl defensive ends Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon as well as Larry Ogunjobi.

He’s sees big potential considering that combined, the Browns’ new defensive front four had 30.5 sacks, 81 quarterback hits and 33 tackles for loss in 2018.

“It is a pick your poison type of deal,” Richardson said. “That is the type of feeling you get from looking at it going off of numbers.

“If you are going to double team me, somebody else is going to make the play and get off.”