The Cleveland Browns released veteran defensive tackle and locker room leader Sheldon Richardson in a surprise move on Friday, a transaction that caught many off guard.
Among those was Browns star Myles Garrett, who had played alongside Richardson on the Browns defensive line the past two seasons.
Richardson said his goodbye to Cleveland in an Instagram post, writing: “It was just starting to feel like home. Aye Dawg Pound I had a great time….til next time.”
Reactions Pour In From Browns Players
Numerous Browns players could be found in the comments, including All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett.
“Don’t be a stranger big dawg,” Garrett wrote to Richardson.
“Never that. More than co-workers brudda,” Richardson response. “You better break the sack record and stop playin.”
Richardson is referring to the 14 sack single-season Browns franchise record set by Reggie Camp in 1984. Garrett came close last season, totaling 13.5 sacks
Another response came from Browns linebacker Malcolm Smith, who re-signed with Cleveland this offseason.
“I was looking forward to talking s–t and you backing me up,” Smith wrote. Richardson responded, saying “definitely was looking forward to it too Malc.”
Sheldon Richardson Made Impact Wih Browns
Richardson joined the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Last season, he started all 16 games and totaled 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He also showed off a versatile skill set, being able to flex out to defensive end at times when injuries ravaged the position.
Richardson was a first-round pick by the Jets in 2013 and was voted the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was named a Pro Bowler in 2014 and won the 2019 PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award.
While no one was happy to see Richardson go, it was a big cap-saving move for Cleveland. The Browns had just under $11 million in cap space left after signing Jadeveon Clowney on Thursday to a one-year deal worth $8 million, with another $2 million in incentives, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
Along with Clowney, the Browns have made some key additions to their defensive line rotation, which will feature a starting group with three new faces following Richardson’s release.
Former first-round pick Takk McKinley will play a rotational role at defensive end, while newly-signed veteran Malik Jackson is expected to take on a larger role.
“I feel like pass rush is a big thing for me. It is one of the things I pride myself on doing is getting to the quarterback,” Jackson said during his introductory press conference. “That is one of the reasons I wanted to come here. I know I have a good opportunity to come out here and really get some pass rush reps and get back to where I feel like I was three years ago when I had eight sacks. I am coming here to put pressure on that quarterback and help the defensive ends put pressure up that middle so the D ends can get the sacks when the quarterback falls out and vice versa when the D ends get the pressure on the end so the guys on the inside can get sacks. I am coming here to be a team player.”
Jackson has recorded 267 tackles, 35 sacks, six forced fumbles, and 25 pass deflections in his 10-year career.
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