EAGAN, Minn. – Sheldon Richardson will be back in Vikings Purple this season.
The Vikings announced Tuesday they have signed the defensive tackle who spent the 2018 campaign with Minnesota before joining the Browns for two seasons.
During his first stint with the Vikings, Richardson started all 16 regular-season games. He recorded 49 tackles (league stats), 4.5 sacks and 6.0 tackles for loss.
In 2020, Richardson started every game for Cleveland, recording 64 tackles (league stats), 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, three passes defensed and a forced fumble. He also played in two playoff games, totaling six tackles and a pass defensed for the Browns in his first postseason appearances.
View photos of DT Sheldon Richardson who signed with the team on June 15.
Here are five things to remember about Richardson:
1. Started on a Jet plane
Richardson originally was drafted 13th overall by the Jets in 2013, and he made an early impact.
He played in all 16 games, making 15 starts, as a rookie and racked up 77 tackles (42 solo) and 3.5 sacks in addition to a pass defensed and forced fumble. That season, Richardson was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by The Associated Press and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
In his second season with New York, Richardson tallied 66 tackles, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also racked up a career-high 8.0 sacks, including one of then-Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater in the end zone for a safety in Week 13. For his performance that season, Richardson received his first career Pro Bowl nod.
2. Plenty left to give
Some fans may wonder if a defensive tackle entering his ninth season has plenty left in the tank, and it seems clear that Richardson does.
When the Browns released Richardson earlier this spring, Zac Jackson of The Athletic emphasized that the transaction was "strictly about finances" and is no reflection on his abilities. Jackson wrote:
"Richardson is a gifted player who showed no sign of decline in his time with the Browns. With an overall grade of 71.1, [analytics site] Pro Football Focus rated Richardson as the Browns second-best overall defender last season, when he had 4.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. His departure leaves the Browns' defensive tackle rotation [struggling]."
3. Another reunion
Richardson isn't the first player this offseason to return to the fold after spending a short amount of time away.
Stephen Weatherly and Mackensie Alexander spent the 2020 season with the Panthers and Bengals, respectively, before re-signing with Minnesota. And although Richardson only spent one season with the Vikings previously, it bodes well for Minnesota that he wants a second go.
4. Transferred to be a Tiger
Richardson started his college career at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, but he transferred to the University of Missouri and put out plenty of good tape over two seasons before declaring for the NFL Draft.
His 75 tackles in 2012 ranked second on the Tigers roster, and the total topped all defensive tackles in the Southeastern Conference.
Richardson was able to visit Tiger Kingdom in Phuket, Thailand, in February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
5. Hails from St. Louis
Playing for the Tigers enabled Richardson, who was born and raised in St. Louis, to remain in his home state.
Richardson attended Gateway Institute of Technology High School, where as a senior he scored six defensive touchdowns. He also played on offense, recording 27 catches for 541 yards and eight touchdowns as a tight end.
Richardson has multiple tattoos that honor his hometown, including one of the Gateway Arch. He is the third Missouri native on the Vikings roster, joining fellow defensive tackle Armon Watts (St. Louis) and rookie tight end Zach Davidson (Webb City).