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Browns release Sheldon Richardson

Veteran defensive tackle let go after two seasons as Cleveland rebuilds its defensive line.

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Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Cleveland Browns released defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on Friday afternoon.

The veteran spent two seasons with the Browns after signing as a free agent in 2019.

Richardson started 31 games with the Browns, and recorded 7.5 sacks, 125 tackles and four forced fumbles. This past season, he was second on the Browns with 51 quarterback pressures and posted a run grade of 76.6, and an overall grade of 68.7, according to Pro Football Focus.

The release of Richardson opens up around $12 million in cap space for the Browns, so there will likely be speculation that the move was necessary following the signing of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on Wednesday.

But even taking into account Clowney’s contract, the Browns still had almost $11 million in cap space before releasing Richardson, so it is possible the decision was based more on balancing out the cost of Richardson’s contract versus his production on the field.

With Sheldon now gone, the defensive tackle position group consists of Malik Jackson, who was signed in free agency, Andrew Billings, who opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Jordan Elliott, a third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Sheldon Day, who joined Cleveland’s practice squad in December.

The move leaves defensive end Myles Garrett as the only starter left from 2020 on the defensive line. Previously, Cleveland allowed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to leave in free agency and are not expected to re-sign defensive end Olivier Vernon after the veteran suffered a torn Achilles in the final game of the regular season.