Should The Packers Pursue Free Agent DT Sheldon Richardson?

Veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was released by the Cleveland Browns this past Friday. The 2014 pro bowler becomes a free agent just over a week away from the 2021 NFL draft. This move saves the Browns having to pay Sheldon Richardson the $12M he is due this season. In addition, this move comes just a couple days after the team signs veteran defensive end Jadeveon Clowney off of free agency. Teams will be actively trying to sign him before the draft. Should the Packers join the club? We take a look at how he would impact the team.

Career Production

Richardson was the thirteenth overall pick in 2013 by the New York Jets and since then he’s been a nightmare in the trenches. He’s had 31 career sacks, 273 solo tackles, 92 quarterback hits, ten forced fumbles, and one interception. Also, he produced 58 tackles for loss yardage. In the last two seasons in Cleveland, Richardson played at least 73% of defensive snaps and played all sixteen games. In his career, the thirty year old only missed seven games as well. Even though, he’s only earned one Pro Bowl in 2014, Richardson has the talent to boost the defensive line of any team. According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson earned a 71.1 overall rating after totaling 44 tackles and six sacks in 2020.

Current Contract

With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the sports industry, teams were having to manage with a very low cap salary. Unfortunately, Richardson was a cap casualty in Cleveland and was set to make $12M this season. He is currently on a three year, $37M contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Impacting The Packers Defense

Richardson would immediately impact the Packers defense, by lining up next to star defensive tackle Kenny Clark. After having only missed seven games in his career, the thirty year old still has plenty of tread on his tires. He’s a huge upgrade to the run defense over kingsley keke, and has veteran experience. The Packers defense allowed an average of 117 rushing yards per game in 2020. In fact, the opposing offense gained over 140 rushing yards in four different games against this Packers defense. If new defensive coordinator Joe Barry implements the 4-3 defense, Richardson and Clark would strengthen the interior defensive line.

The Packers should actively try to pursue Richardson. Inserting him into this defense would at least provide depth behind Clark, Keke, and Dean Lowry. Also, they’d be providing the franchise a disservice if they didn’t seriously consider signing Richardson. However, with the cap situation they won’t be able to pay him the $12M he was set to earn this season. If they can settle on an agreement, with the lack of depth of defensive linemen in this year’s draft, that’d be a huge win for their defense.


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